Find out about special leave without pay

What special leave rights does an employee have under the Employment Standards Act?

The Act gives an employee the right to take a leave of absence if:

  • they have suffered the loss of a family member; or
  • are managing the care of a critically ill child or family member.

What are the types of leaves allowed under the Act?

These include:

  • sick leave;
  • bereavement leave;
  • compassionate care leave;
  • leave related to the critical illness of a child;
  • leave related to the critical illness of an adult; and
  • leave related to the disappearance or death of a child as a result of a crime.

Does the Act entitle an employee to financial benefits related to a leave of absence?

The Act only entitles an employee to take specific leaves of absence without pay. Financial benefits related to a leave of absence are administered under the federal Employment Insurance Act. For more information, phone Service Canada at 1-800-206-7218.

Definitions of "family members"

The Act uses the definition of “family member” from the Employment Insurance Regulations. The definition includes many different relationships, such as:

  • the spouse or common-law partner of the employee;
  • the child of the employee; or
  • a person who the employee considers to be like a close relative or who considers the employee to be like a close relative.

An employer may offer benefits or leaves that are better than those outlined under the Act. If these benefits and leaves form part of the employment contract, these may be enforceable under the Act.

For more information

Look at the fact sheet on special leave without pay under the Employment Standards Act. There is more information on the types of leave noted above.

Contact an Employment Standards Officer at 667-5944 or by email at