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Leaves of Absence (OPS)

Contents

Introduction

An important note on leaves

Dependent or elder care leave

Special or compassionate care leave

Pregnancy and parental leave

Unpaid leaves

Educational leave

Self-funded leave

Religious accommodation leave

Leave for outside employment

Military leave

Jury duty or witness duty leave

Leave without pay

Use vacation credits

Leave with pay

Bereavement leave

Family responsibility leave

Family caregiver leave

Family medical leave

Organ (or bone marrow) donor leave

Critical illness leave

Child death or crime-related disappearance leave

Domestic or sexual violence leave

If you have questions or need assistance


Introduction

Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn, and it can be difficult to manage alongside work.

That’s why, in addition to provisions extended to most Ontarians under the Employment Standards Act, AMAPCEO has negotiated other types of leave in your Collective Agreement that allow you to tend to personal or family circumstances that may arise.

The ability to collectively negotiate the terms and conditions of your employment, including this type of paid leave, is an important advantage of being a unionized professional.


An important note on leaves

While each type of leave is different, you may be entitled to more than one leave for the same event, issue, or reason.

An AMAPCEO Workplace Representative can help you determine your eligibility and the best approach for your situation.

We also recommend you provide your manager as much lead time as possible when requesting a leave of absence. While your Employer must consider your request in good faith and be reasonable, they may need to consider operating requirements, depending on the type of leave.


Dependent and elder care leave

You are entitled to take up to two days of paid leave each year to attend to unforeseen dependent or elder care matters.

See our fact sheet on dependent and elder care leave.


Special or compassionate leave

You are entitled to request paid leave for personal circumstances related to special or compassionate reasons.

See our fact sheet on special or compassionate leave.


Pregnancy and parental leave

You are entitled to pregnancy and parental leave, but the details of your leave depend on your employment status.

See our fact sheet on pregnancy and parental leave.


Unpaid leaves

You can request an unpaid leave of absence (without accumulation of credits [e.g, vacation, pension]) from your manager at any time.

Your Employer will usually respond to your request within 10 days, but more time may be required in some instances. If more time is required, your Employer must give you a timetable for the decision under Article 23.2.1 of your Collective Agreement.

Your Employer cannot unreasonably deny your request but may take “operating requirements” into account as a factor in the decision.

Unpaid leaves include educational leave and self-funded leave.

Educational leave

Your Collective Agreement (Articles 23.2.3 & 23.2) entitles you to request a minimum of a one-year unpaid leave of absence (without accumulation of credits) to pursue education.

You may wish to contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative for assistance with your request.

Self-funded leave

Your Collective Agreement (Articles 23.2.4 & 23.2) entitles you to request an unpaid leave of absence (without accumulation of credits) by participating in the self-funded leave plan. Permitted under the Income Tax Act, you can defer your pre-tax salary to fund a leave of absence.

The leave can be as short as six months or as long as one year. It can be for any reason.

Under the self-funded leave plan, you can designate up to 33.3% of your pre-tax salary to be deposited into a special bank account at a financial institution designated by your Employer. This is called the “deferral period,” and it must be at least one year long and no longer than four years.

When you start your leave, you will receive the funds set aside in this special bank account as either a lump sum or as bi-weekly installments.

For example

Sahil wishes to take a year off from his full-time role in the OPS to visit family abroad and travel.

If approved for a self-funded leave, he would work full-time for three years, but receive (and pay tax on) 75% of his normal salary.

In year four, Shail would start his leave of absence and receive the amount that was deferred (the equivalent of 25% of salary for each of the previous three years).

More details are available on your Employer’s InsideOPS intranet. You may also wish to contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative for assistance with your request.


Religious accommodation leave

Your Collective Agreement (Articles 23.4 & 23.3.1) entitles you to take up to two days of paid leave each year for religious accommodation, if the day being requested qualified as a religious holiday. A calendar of eligible religious holidays is available on your Employer’s InsideOPS intranet.

These paid leave days will be counted against your three days of special or compassionate leave. If you have already used these days, you cannot take religious accommodation leave.

You will continue to accrue credits and be covered by your benefit plan while on religious accommodation leave.

You should provide reasonable notice to your manager before taking this paid leave. Please see our fact sheet on special and compassionate leave for more information.


Leave for outside employment

Your Collective Agreement (Article 23.5) entitles you to request up to one year for the purpose of undertaking employment outside the OPS. A Deputy Minister is responsible for reviewing and making a decision on a request under this provision.

It may also be renewed for an additional year at your Employer’s discretion.

If you will be undertaking employment with the Government of Canada or another public agency, you can request for the leave to be:

  • paid (including accumulation of credits and continuation of benefits); or
  • unpaid (without accumulation of credits or benefits coverage).

If your employment will be with a private or public corporation, the leave would be unpaid, without accumulation of credits or continuation of benefits.


Military leave

Your Collective Agreement (Article 23.6) entitles you to request up to two weeks leave for Canadian Forces Reserve Training.

Only one of these weeks can be paid, but you will continue to accrue credits and will be covered by the benefits plan for both weeks.


Jury duty or witness duty leave

Under your Collective Agreement (Article 23.7) If you have been summoned as a juror or a witness, you may choose to:

Leave without pay

  • If you take a leave without pay, you may keep the fees you receive as a juror. If your jury or witness duty is longer than one month, you will not accumulate credits or be covered by the benefits plan during the leave.

Use vacation credits

  • If you use vacation credits, you may keep the fees you receive as a juror.

Leave with pay

  • If you take a leave with pay, you will be required to pay any fees you receive as a juror or witness to your ministry.

Bereavement leave

Your Collective Agreement entitles you to:

  • up to three consecutive paid days leave related to the death of a:
    • spouse (including same-sex partner and common-law spouse),
    • mother,
    • father
    • step-mother,
    • step-father,
    • mother-in-law,
    • father-in-law,
    • son,
    • daughter,
    • step-son,
    • step-daughter,
    • son-in-law,
    • daughter-in-law,
    • sister-in-law,
    • brother-in-law,
    • grandparent,
    • step-grandparent,
    • grandchild,
    • step-grandchild,
    • foster child,
    • ward,
    • guardian,
    • former ward,
    • former guardian,
    • foster parent, or
    • former foster parent;
  • one paid day leave (if you would otherwise have been at work) related to the death of a:
    • aunt,
    • uncle,
    • niece, or
    • nephew;

If a funeral for any of these relatives occur more than 800 kilometres away from your home, you are entitled to two additional unpaid bereavement days.

You will continue to accrue credits and be covered by your benefit plan while on bereavement leave.


Family responsibility leave

Under the Employment Standards Act (Section 50.0.1), you are entitled to up to three days of unpaid leave per calendar year because of illness, injury, medical emergency, or urgent matter of certain family members.

An urgent matter is an event that is unplanned or out of your control and may cause serious negative consequences, including emotional harm, if not responded to.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. Your Employer may ask you to provide evidence “reasonable in the circumstances” that you are eligible (e.g, an invoice from a tow truck company after a car accident), but they cannot require you to provide a medical note or details of your loved one’s medical condition.


Family caregiver leave

Under the Employment Standards Act (Section 49.3), you are entitled to up to eight weeks of unpaid leave per calendar year to provide care or support to certain relatives who have a serious medical condition.

This can include, but is not limited to:

  • providing psychological or emotional support;
  • arranging for care by a third-party provider; or
  • directly providing or participating in the care of the family member.

Weeks do not have to be taken consecutively.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You must specify the weeks you will take the leave.

Your Employer may ask you to provide a certificate from a qualified medical professional (i.e., a medical doctor or registered nurse practitioner), but the note does not need to indicate your loved one’s specific medical condition, just that it is serious.

If your situation is such where there is a serious risk of death for the loved one within 26 weeks, please see family medical leave, below.


Family medical leave

The following information is provided by the Employment Standards Act and is in addition to the Collective Agreement entitlements.

Under the Employment Standards Act (Section 49.1), you are entitled to up to 8 weeks of unpaid leave if:

  • you are providing care or support to certain family members or people who are considered like a family member; and
  • a qualified health practitioner (i.e., a medical doctor or registered nurse practitioner) has issued a certificate indicating your loved one has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within 26 weeks.

Weeks do not have to be taken consecutively.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You must specify the weeks you will take the leave.

If you must take this kind of leave, you may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefits.

If your situation is such where there is not a serious risk of death for the loved one, please see family caregiver leave, above.


Organ (or bone marrow) donor leave

If you are an organ or bone barrow donor and are unable to attend work, you are entitled to paid sick leave entitled to your usual sick leave provisions.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You must specify the weeks you will take the leave. You may be required to produce a medical certificate.

If you have worked in the OPS for at least 13 weeks and have exhausted your sick leave provisions, the Employment Standards Act (Section 49.2) provides unpaid organ donor leave of up to 13 weeks. This can be extended for up to an additional 13 weeks.

The ESA organ donor leave does not include leaves related to bone marrow donation.


Critical illness leave

The Employment Standards Act (Section 49.4) provides unpaid leave, within a 52-week period, of:

  • up to 37 weeks related to the critical illness of your child (under the age of 18); and
  • up to 17 weeks related to the critical illness of an adult family member.

This leave can be taken to provide care or support to a critically ill child or adult family member for whom a qualified health practitioner has issued a certificate.

Eligible family can include a person who considers you to be like a family member.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You must specify the weeks you will take the leave.

If you must take this kind of leave, you may be eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) caregiving benefits.


Child death or crime-related child disappearance leave

The Employment Standards Act (Sections 49.5 and 49.6) provides to up to 104 weeks of unpaid leave related to the death or crime-related disappearance of your child (under the age of 18).

This leave must begin within 105 weeks of the date of the child’s death or crime-related disappearance and must be taken in a single period.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer, in writing, before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You must specify the weeks you will take the leave.

If you have to take time away from work because of the crime-related death or disappearance of your child, you may be eligible for the Canadian Benefit for Parents of Young Victims of Crime.


Domestic or sexual violence leave

If you or one of your children (under the age of 18) experiences domestic or sexual violence or the threat of domestic or sexual violence, you may request this kind of leave.

The Employment Standards Act (Section 49.7) provides up to 10 intermittent or consecutive days of leave and up to 15 additional weeks in each calendar year. While the first five days are paid, any subsequent days or weeks are unpaid.

This leave can be used to access services or relocate, or to seek counselling, medical care, and/or legal or law enforcement assistance.

If you need to take this kind of leave, please inform your Employer before taking the leave or as soon as possible after starting the leave. You do not need to provide your manager or your Employer with specific domestic or sexual violence incident details.


If you have questions or need assistance

Please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative in your District. They do not have to be in your Ministry.

Workplace Representatives are trained union members who have volunteered to confidentially assist members like you in the workplace. They should be your first point of contact in seeking information and representation with an issue at work.

Your Workplace Representative may ask you to use the union’s secure web-based system, RADAR, to provide details about your situation. RADAR will help you and your Workplace Representative keep track of things without the privacy concerns that could come from using the Employer’s email system.

Fact Sheet

Bargaining Unit: Ontario Public Service (OPS)

Collective Agreement Articles: 23

First Published: November 18, 2020

Last Updated: December 7, 2020

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