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The Canada Labour Board issues a set of standards for employers to follow to ensure that employees are safe and treated fairly on the job. Compassionate care leave is provided for individuals who have a need to care for a family member who is ill or dying. All employees without exception are eligible to take up to 6 weeks off to care for a family member who is not expected to recover. Let’s take a closer look at these provisions.

Does an employer need to pay wages during this time?

Employers are not required to provide wages for employees who take compassionate care leave. The provision only allows for job security. However, some employees may be eligible for additional cash benefits. More information can be obtained at any local Human Resource Centre of Canada.

Who is considered a family member in terms of this leave?

The list is extensive and includes the following: spouses, common law partners, children of either partner, parents of either partner, grandparents, grandchildren, a child’s spouse or common law partner, aunts and uncles, nieces or nephews, current or former foster parents or children. Individuals are also able to designate an unrelated individual to be their caretaker in the event of terminal illnesses.

Does an employer need a doctor’s note?

Employers may require certified doctor’s notes before the employee returns to work. The note must state that the employee’s family member must be gravely ill and not expected to live past 26 weeks. If the family member is still living but gravely ill at the end of the leave another doctor’s note can be required to receive an additional 8 weeks of leave.

What happens with the job while the employee is out?

Employees returning to work after compassionate care leave are eligible for the same or comparable role they left at the same wages and benefits. The only instance where lower wages can be paid is in a case where wages were reduced as part of reorganization. The employee would also be eligible for pay increases. The employer must continue to contribute to pensions and other benefits while the employee is away. An employer may not terminate an employee on compassionate care leave or make any adverse decisions based on this leave.


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