- Employees are eligible for death or disappearance of a child leave if the death or disappearance of a child occurs as a result of a probable Criminal Code offence.
- Employees are eligible 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 death or disappearance 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 death or disappearance of their child are considered to be continuously employed for the purposes of calculating years of service.
Employees are eligible for this leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer and:
- they are the parent of a child (under 18 years of age) who has disappeared and it is probable that the child disappeared as the result of a crime (an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada), or
- they are the parent of a child (under 18 years of age) who has died and it is probable that the child died as a result of a crime (an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada)
For the purpose of this type of leave, a parent is considered to be:
- a parent of the child in question, or
- the spouse or common-law partner of a parent of the child, or
- a person with whom the child has been placed for the purpose of adoption, or
- 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
An employee is not entitled to this leave if they have been charged with the crime that resulted in the death or disappearance of the child.
Employees with less than 90 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.
Length of leave
An eligible employee can take leave for up to 52 weeks if the child has disappeared, and up to 104 weeks if the child has died as a probable result of a crime.
Death of a child
If an employee is taking leave due to the death of a child, then the period of leave will end 104 weeks after the day of the death unless agreed otherwise to in writing by the employee and employer.
Disappearance of a child
If an employee is taking leave due to the disappearance of a child, then the period of leave will end 52 weeks after the day the child disappeared unless otherwise agreed to in writing by the employee and employer.
If the employee takes leave and the child is then found alive, the period of leave ends the earlier of:
- 14 days after the child is found, or
- 52 weeks after the day the child disappeared
If the employee takes leave due to the disappearance of a child who is subsequently found deceased as the result of a crime, the period of leave ends 104 weeks after the day the child disappeared.
The eligible employee must provide reasonable verification that they are entitled to the death or disappearance of a child leave as soon as is reasonable.
Reasonable verification will vary depending on the circumstances, but typically is considered written evidence that an employee provides to verify their entitlement to the leave.
The eligible employee can begin their leave on the day of the death or disappearance of the child, but must give their employer written notice as soon as it is reasonable and practicable to do so. This notice should also include the estimated date of the employee’s return to work, if known.
The employee must inform his or her employer of any change in the estimated date of returning to work.
The employee taking the leave 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.
If an employee takes death or disappearance of child leave and is subsequently charged with the crime that resulted in the death or disappearance of the child, then the leave ends on the day the employee is charged.
An employee who does not want to resume employment 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.
Leave also ends on the day in which it is no longer probable that the death or disappearance was a result of a crime.
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 a job-protected leave unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business. In this case, employees can be terminated or laid off. The employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 52 weeks after their leave ends.
Employers can’t discriminate against, lay off or terminate an employee, or require them to resign, because of a request for a job-protected leave.
For more information, contact Alberta Human Rights Commission.
An employee who feels they have been improperly terminated can file an employment standards complaint.
Federal Income Support Grant
Employees may be eligible for income support through the federal Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant. For more information, contact Government of Canada.
How the law applies
Part 2, Division 7.3 of the Employment Standards Code sets out the rules for death or disappearance of a 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.