Skip to main content

Special or Compassionate Leave (OPS)

Contents

Introduction

Eligibility

Special or compassionate leave

How to request special or compassionate leave

Requests up to three days

Requests between four days and six months

Requests for six months or longer

How your Employer will review your request

How long will it take for your Employer to decide

If a decision cannot be made before you need time off

If your request is denied

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 AMAPCEO has negotiated paid leave so you can tend to personal circumstances that may arise. These provisions are defined in Article 23 of your Collective Agreement.

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.


Eligibility

All employees are eligible for special or compassionate leave.


Special or compassionate leave

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

This could include:

  • dependent or elder care (see our fact sheet on dependent or elder care leave);
  • transportation breakdown;
  • legal matters;
  • assisting a person in need (including your family);
  • household emergencies;
  • ceremonies and celebrations;
  • moving;
  • or the death of a friend or family member (not otherwise covered under bereavement leave)

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

You do not need to have used up your other credits (e.g., overtime, vacation, sick days) to be eligible or considered for special or compassionate leave.

How to request special or compassionate leave

If you encounter personal circumstances for which you wish to request special or compassionate leave:

1. Discuss your request with your manager to give them advanced notice and try to get their support for your request. Be prepared to discuss your request and, within reason, the circumstances that require you to be away from work.

  • Your manager and your Employer are entitled to ask you for information that supports your request. You may find this information sensitive to discuss, but your manager and your Employer must ensure the confidentiality of the information you give them.

2. Your manager will likely ask you to complete a standard form to request a special or compassionate leave.

3. Gather documentation that may support your request. This could include:

  • alternatives you have considered, and why they were unsuitable;
  • a letter from the doctor of the ill or injured person you are caring for, indicating the type and duration of support required;
  • a letter from the person you are assisting (or an organization they receive services from) if it is not related to illness or injury, explaining why your assistance is required and the negative impact on them if your request is denied; and/or
  • the financial impact on you if your request is denied.

4. Submit this form and any supporting documentation to your manager. If your request is for between four days and six months, ask your manager who will be reviewing it.

In most cases, your request to take special or compassionate leave is subject to “reasonable” discretion by your manager or your Employer.

Requests up to three days

Requests up to three days will be reviewed by your manager.

Your manager or your Employer must grant your request if it is for:

Requests between four days and six months

Your manager will forward your request to the Deputy Minister for your Ministry.

Your Deputy Minister may delegate part or all of this to others (e.g., an Assistant Deputy Minister or your Director).

For example, requests between four days and one month may be reviewed by your Director, those between one month and up to three months by your Assistant Deputy Minister, and those between three and six months by your Deputy Minister.

Requests for six months or longer

Your manager will forward your request to the Public Service Commission.


How your Employer will review your request

Your Employer should consider ever request for special or compassionate leave on its own merits and on a case-by-case basis.

While the length of your leave request will determine who reviews it, the same criteria should be used for every request for special or compassionate leave, regardless of how long or short it may be.

Your manager and the Employer must use “reasonable” discretion when reviewing your request. For example, labour arbitrators regularly consider what’s called the “Four-Fold Test” when reviewing management decisions on requests for things such as employee leave:

1. The decision must be made in good faith and without discrimination. Employees in similar circumstances should be treated in a similar manner and personal characteristics should not be used as a basis for the decision.

2. There must be a genuine exercise of discretion as opposed to rigid policy adherence.

3. Consideration must be given to the merits of each request. Each leave request should be carefully reviewed to ensure that all relevant information has been collected.

4. All relevant factors must be considered, and irrelevant factors must be rejected.


How long will it take for your Employer to decide

Since each request for special or compassionate leave should be considered on its own merits, the length of time it takes for your Employer to review your request will vary. The length of time will depend on the complexity of your circumstances and if your Employer needs additional information from you.

If a decision cannot be made before you need time off

If your Employer tells you that they are unable to decide on your request before you need to be away from work, talk to your manager about how your absence could be covered (e.g., by using vacation or lieu time) until a decision is made on your request. Do not make yourself absent from work without talking to your manager, as it could lead to disciplinary action against you.

If your request for special or compassionate leave is approved after the fact, your credits will be re-established to the extent to which your Employer has approved the leave.

If you feel your Employer has not considered or responded to your request in a reasonable time, please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative for assistance.


If your request is denied

Please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative for assistance.


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 Article: 23

First Published: November 18, 2020

Last Updated: December 7, 2020

Contact a Workplace Representative

See more Ontario Public Service Fact Sheets