Personal Emergency Leave and Bereavement Leave in the Automotive Manufacturing Sector

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000, (the ESA), most employees whose employer regularly employs 50 or more employees are entitled to 10 days of unpaid personal emergency leave annually for any of the following reasons:

•  a personal illness, injury or medical emergency;

•  the death, illness, injury or medical emergency of a family member (as listed in the ESA); 

•  an urgent matter that concerns a close family member (as described in the Act).

However, on January 1, 2017, the personal emergency leave entitlement under the ESA was amended for employees working in the automobile manufacturing sector. The 10-day personal emergency leave entitlement was replaced with the following:

(i) a 7-day unpaid personal emergency leave entitlement for any of the following reasons:

  • a personal illness, injury or medical emergency;
  • the illness, injury or medical emergency (but not death) of a family member (as listed in the Regulation);
  • an urgent matter that concerns a family member (as listed in the Regulation); and,

(ii) a separate bereavement leave entitlement providing for 3 unpaid days of bereavement leave per death of a listed family member, with no yearly limit.  

These amendments may foreshadow broader changes to the personal emergency leave provisions of the ESA to come in the near future. The Special Advisors’ Interim Report for Ontario’s “Changing Workplaces Review” (a consultation and review process designed to consider how the Labour Relations Act, 1995 and the ESA could be amended to better reflect modern workplaces) indicated that the Special Advisors were considering making the following final recommendations with respect to the personal emergency leave provisions:

  1. Maintain the status quo.
  2. Remove the 50 employee threshold.
  3. Break down the 10-day entitlement into separate leave categories with separate entitlements for each category but with the aggregate still amounting to 10 days in each calendar year. For example, a specified number of days for each of personal illness/injury, bereavement, dependent illness/injury, or dependent emergency leave but the total days of leave still adding up to 10.
  4. A combination of options 2 and 3 but maintaining different entitlements for different sized employers.

These considerations reflect concerns from employers about the complexity of administering the personal emergency leave entitlements in light of other ESA leave entitlements and/or greater contractual leave benefits, and concerns from employees who do not have access to the personal emergency leave provisions because their employer does not employ more than 50 employees. The Special Advisors’ Final Report is due to be released this year.