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Ontario eliminates “personal emergency leave”

Effective January 1, 2019, the Ontario government has repealed provisions introduced by the previous Ontario government in 2017 that provided for up to 10 days, including two paid days, of personal emergency leave, replacing it with separate entitlements to sick leave, family responsibility leave and bereavement leave. These new forms of leave are all unpaid.

New forms of unpaid leave

As of January 1, 2019, Ontario employees who have been employed for at least two consecutive weeks are annually entitled to:

  • three days of sick leave due to personal illness, injury or medical emergency;
  • three days of family responsibility leave due to a family member’s illness, injury or medical emergency or due to an urgent matter concerning a family member; and
  • two days of bereavement leave due to the death of a family member.

Personal emergency leave has been abolished, and the two paid days of personal emergency leave have not been replaced by new paid leave days.

Other changes to employment standards legisaltion

The Ontario government has also repealed a provision that had prohibited employers from requiring an employee to provide a doctor’s note as evidence of entitlement to leave.

Finally, the Ontario government has also repealed a provision that had prohibited compensating parttime, casual or temporary workers differently than their full-time counterparts, except where based on a seniority, merit or production-based system, or on another factor apart from employment status. The provision did not affect pension or benefit plans.


The changes adopted by the Ontario government repeal some of the changes to employment standards leave that were adopted by the previous Ontario government. However, a number of other new and extended leave provisions introduced by the previous provincial government remain unaffected. The details of these provisions were summarized in the January 2018 edition of News & Views.

While a number of jurisdictions have moved towards requiring employers to provide paid leave to employees or to treat part-time and temporary employees the same as full-time employees, the new Ontario government has reversed this trend.

We will continue to monitor developments in this area.

News & Views - February 2019 (PDF)