If one of your beloved family members has fallen sick due to the resurgence of Covid-19 cases, you may consider taking a family caregiver leave to provide care or support to them. In this blog, we would like to answer some common questions that employees have raised in connection to this leave.

Q: What is a Family Caregiver Leave?

Family caregiver leave is an unpaid leave available to employees who needs to take time off to provide care or support to family members who have a serious medical condition. An employee is entitled to a leave of up to eight weeks per year for each specified family member.

It is a job protected leave, which means your employer could not terminate or discipline you for taking this leave.

Q: Am I eligible for Family Caregiver Leave?

There is no requirement for minimum days that you need to have worked to take family caregiver leave.

In order to be eligible for this leave, you need to meet the following two requirements:

a) A qualified health practitioner has issued a medical certificate, stating that the family member whom you are caring for has a serious medical condition.

b) The specified family members are:

1. Your spouse;
2. Your brother or sister;
3. A parent, step parent or foster parent of you or your spouse;
4. A grandparent or step grandparent of you or your spouse;
5. A child, step child or foster child of you or your spouse;
6. A grandchild or step grandchild of you or your spouse;
7. A spouse of a child of you;
8. A relative of you who is dependent on you for care or assistance.

Q: Who is a qualified health practitioner? Can my employer ask for a medical certificate for this leave?

A qualified health practitioner refers to a person who is qualified to practice as a physician, registered nurse or a psychologist under the laws of the jurisdiction in which care or treatment is provided to the individual.

You do not need to have a medical certificate (i.e. doctor’s note) before you start the leave. However, you should obtain the medical certificate soon after starting the leave.

You are eligible for this leave only if a qualified health practitioner issues a certificate stating that the family member that you are providing care for is in a serious medical condition. Therefore, your employer can ask you for a medical certificate (i.e. doctor’s note) to prove that this is the case. If there is no certificate, you are not entitled to take this leave.

Q: How many days can I have for a Family Caregiver Leave?

You are allowed to take up to eight weeks per year for each specified family member. You can take these eight weeks separately or consecutively.

You are allowed to take leave for a period of days in a week. However, if you take these part days in a week, you are considered to have used up one week out of your eight-week entitlement.

Q: Do I have to tell my employer in advance before I take a Family Caregiver Leave?

You should inform your employer in writing that you will be taking a family caregiver leave. Where this is not possible, you are allowed to begin a family caregiver leave before notifying your employer. However, you must inform your employer in writing as soon as possible after starting the leave.

Q: Can I get paid for a Family Caregiver Leave?

This is an unpaid leave. However, you employer could pay you, if it chooses to do so.

If you are experiencing any issues in connection to your family caregiver leave, Top Toronto employment lawyer, Stacey ball can help you determine your legal options. Please call us at 416-921-7997, extension 227.

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