As part of the overhaul of Ontario’s labour and employment legislation, effective January 1, 2018, employees are now entitled to a new job-protected leave of absence – sexual or domestic violence leave. This statutory leave of absence is part of the government’s effort to end gender-based violence as it requires employers to accommodate eligible employees who require time off for reasons of sexual or domestic violence.
In order to be eligible for this leave of absence, an employee must have been employed for at least 13 consecutive weeks, and the employee or the employee’s child must have experienced, or been threatened, with sexual or domestic violence. The leave must also be taken for a specific limited purpose, including: to seek medical attention, to access victim services, to have psychological or other professional counselling, to move temporarily or permanently, or to seek legal or law enforcement assistance.
Length of the Leave of Absence:
There are two lengths of sexual or domestic violence leave which an eligible employee may choose to take within a calendar year: a 10-day period and a 15-week period. The 10-day entitlement may be taken a day (or a part of a day) at a time, and the 15-week entitlement does not have to be taken continuously. Any part of a week taken will be deemed to be one full week. Employees cannot carry over any unused leave time to the following calendar year.
An employee must advise his or her employer of his/her intention to use the sexual or domestic violence leave. If this is not possible, notice must be given as soon as possible after the leave is started. If the employee intends to use his or her 10-day entitlement, notice does not need to be in writing. However, notice that the employee will be taking leave from the 15-week entitlement must be in writing.
Employers must pay eligible employees for the first five days of their sexual or domestic violence leave, whether the employee takes leave from the 10-day entitlement or the 15-week entitlement. The remaining days are unpaid. Employers may request evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” of the employee’s entitlement to the leave. What is reasonable in the circumstances will depend on whether there is a pattern of absences, the duration of the leave, whether any evidence is available, and the cost of the evidence.
Webinar September 19, 2018:
Click here to register for Dentons’ live webinar on September 19, 2018 for further details on the new sexual or domestic violence leave, including how to calculate time-off and how to calculate pay. The webinar will also feature a Q&A discussion.