Time Off

How to ask your employer for an extended leave of absence

Sep 8, 2021
·
6
min read

You’re not quite feeling your best self, something unexpected came up, or you’re about to experience a major life change. You take a deep breath, and it’s clear as day: you need to take some time off work. 

Maybe you’re welcoming a new child. Or, you’re mourning the loss of a loved one. Or perhaps you suddenly require an intensive medical procedure.

In Ontario, employees are entitled to protected, unpaid leaves of absence for reasons outlined under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). But government websites can be confusing, and navigating the conversation with your employer shouldn’t add to what already may be an overwhelming situation.

Here at Humi, we’re always looking to help, so we’ve broken it down for you. Read on to learn how to cover your bases when asking your employer for an extended leave of absence.

Know your reason 

To qualify for a job-protected leave of absence, you must have a valid reason prescribed by the ESA. Please refer to the chart below for examples. For more information on the types of leaves and their differences, check out our recent blog – What are the different types of leaves?

It’s important to note that psychological reasons, such as stress or depression, can be considered a sickness, meaning employees are entitled to the three-day sickness leave under the ESA. For any other types of leave, like study or travel, you don’t need a reason. Keep in mind that your job isn’t protected and your employer can refuse your request. 

Give as much notice as possible 

Every leave type is different, and while some are sudden and unexpected, others such as parental leave do require you to give advance notice. Most leave types don’t even require you to provide a return to work date! It can get hard to keep track of it all so we’ve put together a chart to help you keep tabs on the different leave types, their lengths, and notice requirements. 

Leave type Maximum length per year (ESA) Minimum notice requirements Can employers ask for evidence?
Pregnancy Leave 17 weeks Two weeks’ written notice Yes
Parental Leave 61-63 weeks Two weeks’ written notice No
Sick Leave Three days Oral or written notice; no timeframes Yes
Family Response Leave Three days Oral or written notice; no timeframes Yes
Family Caregiver Leave Eight weeks Written notice, no timeframes Yes
Infectious Disease Emergency Leave No limit (but government can revoke it) Oral or written notice; no timeframes Yes
Family Medical Leave 28 weeks Written notice, no timeframes Yes
Critical Illness Leave 17-37 weeks Written notice, no timeframes; employee must provide timeline for return Yes
Child Death Leave 104 weeks Written notice, no timeframes; employee must provide timeline for return Yes
Crime-Related Child Disappearance Leave 2 weeks (no death)/104 weeks (death) Written notice, no timeframes; employee must provide timeline for return Yes
Organ-Donor Leave 13 weeks, and then another 13 week extension Two weeks’ written notice Yes
Reservist Leave Unlimited Four weeks’ written notice Yes

Outline your request in writing 

There is no set form that needs to be filled out for an employee to request a leave. However, you must provide your employer with notice in writing within the timeframes outlined above. A simple email (see example below) will suffice:

Dear Mrs. Duffy,

Please be advised that I will be taking parental leave in two weeks for 61 weeks starting on September 20, 2021. 

Thank you,

Gurkirat Singh

Provide evidence when necessary 

In most cases, employers can (and will) ask for evidence. 

Your HR department will be clear with what they need from you, but the chart above outlines when evidence should be provided. For example, for maternity leave, the employee must submit a medical certificate that shows their due date, if asked to do so by the employer.

Familiarize yourself with your company’s policy 

Before submitting your request, be sure to familiarize yourself with your company’s policy – that way you have an idea of what your next move should be if your request is turned down. 

It’s also possible that your employer has enhanced their time-off policy since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Humi, we’ve added paid programs and time off including our gradual return to work program, parental leave, professional development leave, and misscarriage leave. We also encourage our employees to take their paid time off and encourage our fellow Humigos to give back to the community by using their paid volunteer days.

Know your rights

It can be tough navigating certain types of leaves, especially with the fear that it could put your job in jeopardy. That’s why it’s important to know your rights as outlined by the ESA. Remember, time-off is a right, not a reward.

We hope this guide helps to relieve feelings of anxiety when navigating your own leave of absence. Prioritize you and your well-being, always. Take care.  

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Hey there 👋 my name is Andrea Bartlett.

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