Critically Ill Childcare Leave

: NS Labour and Advanced Education, Employment Rights



What is critically ill child care leave?

Critically ill child care leave is an unpaid leave that allows parents and guardians to take time off work to provide care and support to their critically ill child and to resume work at the end of their leave.

Back to top


What is the definition of critically ill child?

“Critically ill child” is defined in the federal Employment Insurance Act regulations.  A critically ill child is a person under the age of 18 who has a life threatening illness or injury.

Back to top


Who is considered to be a parent for critically ill child care leave?

For this leave, a parent is defined as:

  • a parent of a child
  • the spouse or common-law partner of a parent of a child
  • a person with whom a child has been placed for the purpose of adoption
  • a guardian or foster parent of a child
  • a person who has the care and custody of a child pursuant to the Children and Family Services Act

Back to top


How do employees qualify for critically ill child care leave?

Employee must have worked with their employer for at least three months to qualify. Also, employees must obtain a medical certificate from a qualified medical practitioner stating that their child has a critical illness and the period of time for which the child needs care.

Back to top


How long is the leave?

Employees can take up to 37 weeks’ leave, which must be taken over a 52 week time frame. The leave can be broken up into several periods of at least one week in duration during the 52 week time frame. The 52 week time frame begins on the first day of the week in which the child becomes critically ill.

Back to top


What do employees have to do to take the leave?

Employee must let their employer know in writing as soon as possible of their intention to take the leave. If they have to start the leave before they can give written notice they must let their employer know as soon as possible that they have started the leave.

Employees must also give their employer a plan setting out how the leave will be taken, since the leave can be broken up into more than one period over the 52 week time frame. This plan can be changed during the leave with the employer’s agreement or by providing the employer with reasonable notice.

Back to top


Can employers request medical documentation to support the leave request?

Employers can ask in writing for a copy of the medical certificate.

Back to top


If employees have a benefits plan, such as a medical plan, can they keep their benefits plan during the leave?

During the leave, employers must let employees keep up at their own expense any benefits plan to which they belong. Employers must give 10 days’ written notice before the option to keep up the benefits plan is no longer in effect.

Back to top


When does the leave end?

The leave ends:

  • when the number of weeks in the period specified in a medical certificate have been taken (if the certificate sets out a period of less than 37 weeks)
  • when the employee ceases to provide care to the child
  • when 37 weeks of leave have been taken

Back to top


Can the leave be extended or can employees take consecutive critically ill child care leaves?

Under some circumstances, employees can extend their leave or take a new leave during the 52 week time frame.Employees may also be able to take consecutive critically ill child care leaves.

Back to top


Can employees return to work earlier than planned?

Employees can return to work earlier than planned with the agreement of their employer or by giving at least 14 days’ written notice.

Back to top


What happens when employees return from the leave?

When employees return from the leave, they must be accepted back to the same or a comparable position with no loss of seniority or benefits.

Back to top


What if an employer refuses to bring an employee back to work?

Employees must be allowed to return to their previous job, or a comparable one, with no loss in seniority or benefits.  Employees who believe they were demoted or terminated because they took or requested a leave can file a complaint with Labour Standards.  Employers who do not allow an employee to return to work after a leave may be ordered to pay compensation and in some cases ordered to return the employee to their job.

Back to top


What if an employee’s job is no longer available?

Employees must be given a comparable job with the same pay and benefits.  There may be some circumstances where an employee’s job is eliminated and the employer does not have a comparable job to give the employee.   In these situations employers will need to show that that the job is gone and that the leave had no impact on the decision to lay-off or terminate the employee’s employment.  When employees are being let go because a job is being eliminated usually they must be given written notice that the job is ending or pay in lieu of notice.

Back to top


Is there any income support for employees who take the leave?

Employees who take a critically ill child care leave may qualify for a 35 week special benefit under the federal government's Employment Insurance program. For more detail on this special benefit, please contact Service Canada.

Back to top


Can employees who take critically ill child care leave also take other protected leaves under the Labour Standards Code?

Yes, employees can still qualify for other leaves under the Labour Standards Code.

Back to top


Where can I get more information on critically ill child care leave?

Contact Labour Standards.

Back to top


> Employment Rights home page