What are the different types of leave?

Sep 2, 2021
min read

When you’re in the process of interviewing and negotiating with your potential future employer, one of the benefits you’ll likely hear about is the different types of leaves they offer. It can come up in conversation with the hiring manager, the HR lead in your interview process, or even on the company website. At Humi, we believe in taking care of our greatest asset – our people – and honesty so we share our perks and benefits right on our careers page

As you’re about to sign your contract or if your company is looking to revamp its policies, it’s important to find out the different types of leaves you’re entitled to and the additional leave types that are unique to the company. 

What are the different types of leave?

There are paid and unpaid types of leaves that are under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Some of the most common types of leaves covered under the ESA are:

Public holidays

In Ontario, there are nine public holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Family Day
  • Good Friday
  • Victoria Day
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

These are paid days off that you’re entitled to. Depending on your contract, you may have the option to work on the public holiday and receive additional pay or choose to take another day off. 


Employees with less than five years of employment are entitled to two weeks of vacation time and employees with five or more years of employment are entitled to three weeks of vacation. Vacation time entitlement is recurring every 12 months starting from the date of hire. Vacation pay is at least four percent of the gross wages. Note that when you’re hired midway through the year, your vacation entitlement for the year will likely be prorated.’’

Check your contract and understand what your company offers as some will offer vacation pay in lieu of paid time off. We found this guide to the Employment Standards Act very helpful in explaining the nuances of vacation pay and entitlement. 

Pregnancy and parental leave

Pregnancy leave

In Canada, you’re entitled to up to 17 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave. 

Maternity leave

This is paid through employment insurance (EI). This type of job-protected leave lasts up to 15 weeks for birth mothers and can start up to 13 weeks before birth.

Parental leave

This job-protected leave is also paid through EI. For mothers who take pregnancy leave, you’re entitled to up to 35 weeks of leave. For mothers who did not take pregnancy leave, you’re entitled to 37 weeks of parental leave, as are fathers. New parents in Canada receive 55% of their gross income, up to $595 per week in 2021.

Sick days

Previous to April 2021, employees were entitled to three days of unpaid, job-protected leave due to illness every calendar year. With the amendment, employers are required to provide infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19.


This leave is offered to employees who have experienced the loss of a family member. Under the ESA, you’re entitled to two days of unpaid, job-protected leave every calendar year, within a specified period from time of death. These days do not carry over to the following year.

There are many other leaves that are covered under the ESA and vary from one province/territory to another. For full details, visit Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

Additional benefits

In today’s talent war, salary is likely not the only aspect of the total compensation package new and current employees value. Check out these types of leaves that are additional benefits that your company may offer:

Parental leave top-up

Companies can offer a range of additional benefits here. Typically, employers will choose a salary percentage (between 15-75%) and number of weeks the top-up will last for. Typically, top-ups are above what the ESA offers so there may be additional requests from your employer. Make note of what documentations you’ll need to provide (e.g. proof of EI benefit from Service Canada) and enhanced notice to your manager. You’ll likely also need to communicate with your manager when you plan on beginning your leave and when you plan to return in advance so check your policy to ensure you’re providing enough notice. 

As parents welcome another member to their family which can be overwhelming, not having to worry about a reduced salary for an extended period of time really helps!  

Pawternity leave

At Humi, starting and growing your family goes beyond humans… or as pets may refer to us, “hoomans.” For employees (Humigos) who are bringing pets home, we offer paid time off to help with the transition. After all, introducing a pet to your home may come with its challenges.

Miscarriage leave

Unfortunately, challenges with pregnancies can arise. In fact, this Global News article highlights five commonly asked questions and reveals that one in four pregnancies end in a miscarriage.

In the event of a miscarriage, your employer may offer you paid time off. Be sure to check how many days you’re entitled to and when you need to provide notice.

Training and development

Some employers value professional development and have policies in place to encourage growth in their employees. Check your contract to see if your employer offers an annual stipend and paid time off for activities like studying, taking courses, or to write exams.

Summer hours

Also known as “shortened Fridays” or “flexible Fridays.” Depending on how your company operates, you may have shorter Fridays in the summer months (typically from June to August), half-day Fridays, or every other Friday is a full day off. There are many variations so make sure you check your contract and ask the interviewer or HR lead to get a better understanding. 

Are you interested in taking the next step in your career? Do these additional benefits pique your interest? These are just a few additional types of leave that we offer at Humi and we’re hiring! Check out our job board to see our current openings.

Why companies should value their employees’ work-life balance

Not too long ago, we asked our social media audience about time off – their thoughts, their feelings, and how comfortable they feel talking about it. While Canadian employees living in Ontario have a right to protected, unpaid leaves of absence for reasons outlined under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), users were unanimous in feeling hesitant to ask their employer for time off.

Work is important, but people come first. Your employees should feel comfortable coming to you when they need time off. After all, your business can't function when your team doesn't have space to disconnect and recharge. From what our audience is telling us, there is a clear issue when it comes to supporting our people in getting the rest they need to accomplish great work, and we must do a better job of developing policies and resources that create a culture of acceptance and belonging.

Learn more with Humi

For more information on the different types of leave, check out our recent blog. We also partnered with My Friendly Lawyer not too long ago to help you navigate leave types at your business. Click to learn how to navigate employee leave types from Matthew Wise, an employment lawyer and Partner with Macdonald Sager Manis LLP, and get tips on implementing internal policies from Andrea Bartlett, Director of HR at Humi.

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