Personal Emergency Leave Time In Ontario – Clarifying Ambiguities

Under the Employment Standards Act (2000) in Ontario, employees are entitled to 10 Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) days. This is not new; however, as of January 2018, employers must provide payment for the initial first two days of PEL in the event an employee is entitled to PEL. Personal Emergency Leave can be used for numerous reasons; below will highlight the aspects that are more ambiguous under the legislation.

Personal Emergency Leave may be taken for personal illness. Personal illness is not defined under the provisions of PEL time in the Employment Standards Act (2000). An inquiry to the Ministry of Labour will reveal that personal illness can range from something serious such as a medical emergency, or a common cold. It may also be used for doctor appointments for treatment of an existing medical issue, such as diabetes. However, general appointments such as check-ups do not qualify as PEL.
Further, employees may also choose to use this time for planned medical care such as surgery, treatment of an existing condition, and so forth. Again, the initial 2 days must be paid and the total amount of days per year permitted leave is ten. This may be used at once or in increments.

Urgent matters also qualify for Personal Emergency Leave. This again can include a wide range of matters, which include an employee’s babysitter calling in sick, a meeting with a child’s counselor at school to discuss behavioural problems or tending to the care of a family member such as an elderly parent.

Employers must ensure workplace policies and employment contracts provide minimum entitlements of PEL or a greater benefit. For instance, providing for three paid sick days a year would not qualify as a greater benefit to PEL, as PEL provides 10 days of job-protected leave for a wider array of reasons. However, an employer may count such paid sick days towards the 2 paid Personal Emergency Leave days under the Employment Standards Act (2000). Overall, employers must review their policies to ensure they are compliant with the new provisions of PEL.

We at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific circumstances. If you are looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.