Family responsibility leave is an employee-initiated unpaid leave
of up to 5 days in an employee’s employment year, based on
their starting date. This leave is designed to help employees deal
with family problems that conflict with job responsibilities. This
leave is a statutory entitlement, not something that may or may
not be granted at the discretion of the employer.
Family responsibility leave does not carry over from year to year
if it is not used during the employment year.
Employers should record the absence as leave without pay and keep
a record of the absence.
"A child in the employee's care" means a child under the age of nineteen. Parents are not entitled to family responsibility leave to attend to education-related issues of their children after they reach the age of nineteen.
Under s.1 of the Act, “immediate family” means the spouse,
child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of an
employee, and any person who lives with an employee as a member
of the employee’s family. It includes common-law spouses,
step-parents, and step-children, and same sex partners and their
children as long as they live with the employee as a member of the
Duration of leave
Employees are entitled to request up to 5 days off, to be taken
at their discretion. Any time taken off on any day (even one
hour) qualifies as one day for purposes of
this section, unless the employer and employee agree otherwise.
(See definition of “day” in s.1 of the Act)
Reason for leave
The request does not need to be made because of a crisis or emergency.
It must be related to the care or health, and in the case of a child,
education, of a member of the employee’s immediate family.
An employee is encouraged to give reasonable notice of any request
for leave to allow the employer to accommodate the absence. Employers
are entitled to reasonable proof, after the event, that the request
for a leave was valid.
Vacation entitlement after leave of absence
- Thomas is notified by school authorities that his child has
been injured in a school yard accident and taken to hospital.
Family responsibility leave should be allowed.
- Carin has an appointment to meet with a school counsellor
to discuss behaviour issues. The appointment is during her
scheduled working hours. Family responsibility leave should
- Fisher has to accompany his elderly, disabled parent to attend
a medical appointment. Family responsibility leave should
- Neil wants to accompany his child on a school recreational
activity excursion. Since this activity is not related to
the care, health or education of the child, it does not justify
family responsibility leave.
- Bob wants two days family responsibility leave to go to Edmonton to help his son pack up his belongings after his second year at university and drive him home to Terrace, where he will live with his parents and work for the summer before going back to Edmonton to continue his studies. Since Bob's son is over the age of nineteen, this activity is not related to the education of a child in the employee's care and does not justify family responsibility leave.
Terms and conditions of employment protected
Kate commences work on June 1, 2002. Due to family responsibilities,
in December, 2002, she requests a two-month unpaid leave of absence
to attend to a sick parent. The employer approves the unpaid leave.
Kate returns to work in February 2003.
Kate is entitled to 2 weeks’ paid vacation effective June
1, 2003 regardless of the fact that she has taken a 2-month leave
of absence approved by the employer. See s.56(1)(a) for a further
discussion on vacation pay calculation and entitlement after a
leave of absence.
Section 54 provides that an employer cannot terminate
an employee or change a condition of employment without
the employee's written consent as a result of a leave
under this Part. See also s.56 for an explanation of the
effects of leave under this Part on employment and benefit
payments. If the employer's business operations have been
suspended or discontinued at the time the employee's leave
ends, the employer must comply with s.54(2) when operations
In the event of a contravention under this Part of the
Act, the director may order a remedy in a determination
under s.79(2). The determination will include an escalating
monetary penalty, subject to s.98.
Employees covered by a collective agreement
Under the provisions of s.3, parties to a collective agreement
are prohibited from giving up the specific employment
protection provided in Part 6. Employers, employees and
unions may not negotiate terms and conditions that do
not meet the standards set out in this Part of the Act,
or Part 6 will be deemed to be incorporated into the collective
Under s.3(7) of the Act, where there is a collective agreement,
the enforcement of matters relating to Part 6 is through the grievance
procedure, not through the enforcement provisions of the Act.