Sick leave and emergency leave

Question: We provide all employees with five paid sick leave days per year. Is the statutory requirement to provide up to 10 unpaid emergency leave days per year in addition to our paid sick leave program?

Answer: No. As long as the employer provides at least 10 days of unpaid emergency leave per year, the employer can choose to compensate a number of those 10 days at full, partial or no pay. But employers should make sure their internal sick day or personal days off policy includes the breadth of circumstances that justify a leave under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000.

Many employers only permit time off for the illness of the employee. The ESA, 2000, recognizes emergency leave can be taken for the death, illness, injury, medical emergency or urgent matter involving the employee, a spouse or various extended family members as justification for a leave.

Peter Israel is counsel to Goodman and Carr LLP in Toronto and is head of the firm’s Human Resource Management Group. Peter can be reached at (416) 595-2323.

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