Critical illness of child leave

Eligible employees can take up to 36 weeks of leave to care for a critically-ill child. These standards come into effect January 1, 2018.

The legislation on this page comes into effect on January 1, 2018

For information on Employment Standards legislation that is in force until December 31, 2017, go to http://work.alberta.ca/employment-standards.html

Additional information regarding persons designated as a family member will be available by January 1, 2018.

Basic rules

  • Employees are eligible for critical illness of child leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer.
  • Eligible employees can take time off work without pay without risk of losing their job
  • Employers must grant critical illness of child leave to eligible employees and give them. their same, or equivalent, job back when the employee returns to work.
  • Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during this leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement.
  • Employees who take a leave due to the critical illness of the child in their care are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.

Employee eligibility

Employees are eligible for this leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer and are a parent of a critically ill child who is under 18 years of age.

Employees with less than 90 consecutive days of employment may still be granted this leave. However, their employers aren’t required under employment standards legislation to grant them leave or reinstate them after their leave ends.

Each parent of the critically ill child is entitled to take 36 weeks of job-protected leave.  However, if more than one parent of the same critically ill child is employed by the same employer, the employer is not required to grant this leave for more than one of the employees at the same time.

More than one critically ill child

If more than one child of the eligible employee is critically ill as a result of the same event, the period the employee may take critical illness of child leave:

  • begins the earlier of:
    • the start date of when the child requires that care or support
    • the day the leave began if started before medical certificate was issued
  • ends the earliest of:
    • the last day of the work week the last of the critically ill children dies
    • the end of the 36 week period following the date the leave began
    • the end date listed on the medical certificate of when the child requires care or support
    • the last day of the work week the employee ceases to provide care or support to the last of the critically ill children

Who’s considered a parent?

For critical illness of a child leave, a parent is considered to be:

  • a parent of the child in question,
  • the spouse or common-law partner of a parent of the child
  • a person with whom the child has been placed for the purpose of adoption
  • the guardian or foster parent of the child, or
  • a person who has the care, custody or control of the child whether or not they are related by blood or adoption

Length of leave

An eligible employee can take up to 36 weeks of critical illness of a child leave.

Critical illness of child leave may be taken in more than one period, but each period has to be at least one week long.

After the leave is completed, and if the child is still critically ill and care is required, the employee may request the leave again.  However, a new medical certificate must be provided.

The leave ends on the earliest of the following occurrences:

  • the last day of the work week in which the child named in the medical certificate dies
  • 36 weeks after from the day the leave started
  • the expiry of the period identified in the medical certificate
  • the last day of the workweek in which the employee ceases to provide care or support to the critically ill child

Giving notice

Medical certificate

Employees caring for the critically ill child must give their employer a medical certificate. Additional information regarding the provision of medical certificates will be available by January 1, 2018. The certificate must include:

  • that the child is critically ill and requires the care or support of one or more of parent,
  • the start date of the period when care or support is needed,
  • the end date of the period during which the child requires care or support, and
  • if the leave started before the certificate was issued, the date the leave began

If the employee cannot provide the medical certificate prior to starting the leave, they must provide it as soon as is reasonable.

Starting leave

The employee who wishes to take this leave must give at least 2 weeks’ written notice to their employer. If it not possible to give 2 weeks’ notice, then the employee must give written notice as soon as it is reasonable to do so. This notice needs to include the estimated date of the employee’s return to work. The employee must also inform his or her employer of any change in the estimated date of returning to work.

Ending leave

The employee must provide at least one week’s written notice of the date they intend to return to work unless the employee and employer agree otherwise.

An employee who will not be returning to work after their leave ends must give the employer at least 2 weeks’ written notice of their intention to terminate their employment.

Employers are not required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work the day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances.

Vacation days and pay

Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:

  • take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or
  • get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date

Termination of employment

Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on critical illness of a child leave, or after having given notice of their intention to take critical illness of a child leave, unless:

  • the employer suspends or discontinues the business; in this case, the employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 52 weeks after their leave ends, or
  • the reason for the termination is unrelated to the employee requesting or taking the leave

An employee who feels they have been improperly terminated can file an Employment Standards Complaint.

Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

Employees may be eligible for parents of critically ill children benefits under the federal EI program.

It is important to be aware that the eligibility requirements for Employment Insurance benefits and eligibility to take a job-protected leave in Alberta may be different.  For more information on Employment Insurance, contact Government of Canada.

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 7.4 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the rules for critical illness of child leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.