McGuinty government delivering real positive change as it introduces family medical leave legislation

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McGuinty government delivering real positive change as it introduces family medical leave legislation

Ministry of Labour

TORONTO, April 13 - The McGuinty government today introduced legislation that would provide up to eight weeks of job-protected, unpaid time off work for those taking care of a gravely ill family member, Labour Minister Chris Bentley announced today. "This legislation, if passed, would provide real, positive change for employees who need to take time off work to care for a family member who is nearing the end of life," Bentley said. "Our people's health is our most precious resource. We share a responsibility to protect it from harm and care for it in times of need." The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Family Medical Leave), 2004 would, if passed, provide up to eight weeks of job-protected leave for employees who wish to stay home to care for a gravely ill family member at significant risk of dying within 26 weeks. Anyone in Ontario covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 - including part-time workers - would be eligible to take this job-protected time off work. Providing job-protected leave also builds prosperity by creating a more positive, loyal and productive workforce for employers. Employees who are able to take leave to care for gravely ill family members tend to return to their workplaces better able to focus on their jobs and are likely to be more loyal to their employer. The direct cost of absenteeism due to high levels of caregiver stress has been estimated at just over $1 billion a year in Canada, with indirect costs of an additional $1 to $2 billion. "Years ago, as a society, we decided to support families in the happy times at the beginning of life with maternity and parental benefits," said Bentley. "This is a statement that we are prepared to support people at a difficult time of life, at the end of life." Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- MCGUINTY GOVERNMENT TAKING STEPS TO HELP EMPLOYEES WHEN FAMILY MEMBER GRAVELY ILL The McGuinty government has introduced legislation to help Ontario families care for gravely ill family members. The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Family Medical Leave), 2004 would, if passed, allow employees up to eight weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave while caring for a gravely ill family member who is at significant risk of dying within 26 weeks. By introducing this legislation, the government is recognizing the growing level of employee stress due to work-family conflict caused by an aging population and increasing workplace demands. The legislation would, if passed, protect the jobs of most Ontario employees. Employees may also be eligible for federal Employment Insurance (EI) compassionate care benefits. Employees would be entitled to the eight- week leave regardless of whether they qualify for EI benefits. Current Employee Options Limited Employee access to family-friendly work arrangements is extremely limited. Such arrangements (e.g., childcare services, eldercare leaves) are typically available to employees in large establishments employing 1,000 or more employees. However, 96 per cent of Ontario businesses have fewer than 50 employees (Statistics Canada, 2002. Employment Dynamics). More than 40 per cent of employees caring for a seriously ill family member have had to quit work. Close to one-third lost a major source of income, while another 25 per cent lost most or all of their savings. Impact on the Workplace Family caregiving has a direct impact on workplaces. Employees experiencing high caregiver stress are more likely to miss work because of caregiving responsibilities or because they were emotionally, physically or mentally fatigued. The direct cost of absenteeism due to high levels of caregiver stress has been estimated to be just over $1 billion per year in Canada, with indirect costs up to an additional $1 to $2 billion (Work-Life Conflict in Canada in the New Millennium, Dr. Linda Duxbury and Dr. Chris Higgins, October 2003). Contact: Belinda Sutton Ministry of Labour 416-326-7405 Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE HELPS ONTARIO FAMILIES The McGuinty government has introduced legislation to help Ontario families care for a gravely ill family member. The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Family Medical Leave), 2004, would, if passed, allow employees up to eight weeks job-protected, unpaid leave while caring for a gravely ill family member with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. If passed, this bill would create a family medical leave that: - applies to all employees covered under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), including part-time employees; - provide up to eight weeks of job-protected leave; - requires a supporting medical certificate confirming that a family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks; - entitles the employee to another eight weeks of job-protected leave if the family member is still gravely ill at the end of the 26-week period, provided that a second medical certificate is obtained; - requires the eight weeks of leave to be shared if two or more employees want to take leave to care for the same family member; - defines a family member, for the purpose of family medical leave, as - a spouse - a child of the employee - a child of the employee's spouse - a parent of the employee (child and parent includes persons in "step" or "foster" relationships); - applies family medical leave provisions to same-sex couples whether they are in a married or a common-law relationship; - requires an employee to provide notice of the leave. If an employee has to begin leave before notifying the employer, he/she would have to inform the employer as soon as possible; and - would be in addition to emergency leave provisions in the ESA 2000 so that employees eligible for emergency leave would have full entitlement to both leaves. If passed, this bill would apply to all employees in Ontario who are covered by the ESA 2000. Employees would not be required to have worked a specified length of time in order to qualify for the leave. Reprisals by employers against employees taking the leave would not be permitted, and enforcement would be carried out by Ministry of Labour enforcement officers. Employees would earn seniority and credit for length of service and length of employment while on leave, just as if they had stayed at work. While an employee was on leave, the employer would have to continue to pay its share of the premiums to certain benefit plans (i.e., pension plans, life and extended health insurance plans, accidental death plans and dental plans) that were offered before the leave. Contacts: Peter Fitzpatrick Belinda Sutton Minister's Office Ministry of Labour 416-326-7710 416-326-7405 Disponible en fran├žais For more information visit www.gov.on.ca/lab/For further information: Peter Fitzpatrick, Minister's Office, (416) 326-7710; Belinda Sutton, Ministry of Labour, (416) 326-7405