What is an employee’s sick leave entitlement?

If you are an employer of 50 or more employees, each worker is entitled to a leave of absence without pay for any of the following reasons:

  • Personal illness
  • Personal injury
  • Personal medical emergency

Employers of this status are legally obligated to provide up to 3 days of unpaid protected leave each calendar year for reasons concerning an employee’s sick leave. This leave does not extend to a related person. Special rules apply to some occupations.

As an employer, it’s your decision to provide pay during sick leave.

Legally, sick leave is unpaid, as outlined above. Sick leave, bereavement leave and/or Family Responsibility Leave is a right or benefit that is provided by an employer; this should be defined in an employee’s contract of employment. If the pay for an employee’s leave of absence is greater than the standard stated in the Employment Standards Act, then the terms of the contract apply in its place. However, if the contract provides less than the provisions of the ESA, then the standard will apply to the employee.

There are different types of leave that vary in terms of their purposes, eligibility criteria, and lengths. These include sick leave, family responsibility, bereavement, family caregiver, family medical, domestic or sexual violence, critical illness, child death, and crime-related child disappearance.

Employees may be entitled to more than one type, as each leave is separate and independent of the others. A single absence can only count against one statutory leave, even if the event qualifies under more than one leave.

For employers, a paid sick leave is beneficial to accelerate recovery time and reduce the spread of illness, both of which, help to increase workplace productivity and morale.

3 recommendations for employers to manage employee sickness

Managing employee sickness or other leaves of absence, such as Family Responsibly Leave and Bereavement Leave, is important for the growth of your business and for maintaining a strong organizational culture. Keeping a formal record of leaves of absence has long-term advantages, such as, for analyzing turnover.

Here are three recommendations for employers to manage employee absenteeism:

  1. Keep and update employee files
  2. Provide a sick leave policy that outlines procedures, regulations, and practices. This should be defined in an employee’s contract of employment or employee handbook.
  3. Conduct return to work interviews

COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act Requirements

Workers will not need to provide a doctor note to take the leave. There are also specific conditions for when sick days can be given. The reasons must be related to COVID-19 and include:

  • Getting a COVID-19 test.
  • Staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.
  • Being sick with COVID-19.
  • Getting vaccinated.
  • Experiencing side effects due to the vaccine.
  • Being advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner, or other authority.
  • Caring for a dependent who is:
    • Sick with or has symptoms of COVID-19; or
    • Self-isolating due to COVID-19.

Further, not every worker is covered. Only employees covered by the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and those who don’t already have paid sick time through their employer are eligible.

Are your employees asking about sick leave entitlement?

Questions about employee absence in the workplace is a common topic. Employer Line’s consultants can provide advice and assistance on any aspect of short- or long-term sickness.

Call us to speak with one of our employer advice and HR experts. It’s true, we offer complimentary employer resources and we’re available to talk 24/7. Don’t leave your questions unanswered; call 1-833-247-3650 .