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The final report from Ontario’s Changing Workplaces Review is expected any day now, but in a taste of what’s to come, some changes are already being implemented.

Since 2004, s. 50 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) has required employers with more than 50 employees to provide 10 unpaid emergency leave days annually. These days are available to employees who experience personal illness, injury, medical emergency or other urgent matter, or where a member of the employee’s close family experiences death, illness, medical emergency or other urgent matter.

Effective January 1, 2017 however, this requirement has been amended for companies in the automotive industry, which includes:

  • Automobile manufacturing
  • Automobile parts manufacturing
  • Automobile parts warehousing
  • Automobile marshalling (receiving assembled automobiles and storing them for delivery to purchasers or dealers)

The special rules for employees in the automotive sector have now been amended to entitle these employees to:

  • Seven unpaid days off for the previous reasons (illness, injury, medical emergency, urgent matter, etc.) whether personal or for a family member
  • Three unpaid days off because of the death of a close family member

Employers in the highly-unionized automotive industry often struggled to determine whether their collective agreement provisions provided a “greater right or benefit” than the ESA minimum for emergency leave, as collective agreements usually provide specifically for bereavement leave. This change will therefore enable a more straightforward comparison between ESA minimum requirements and the provisions of a collective agreement.

Of course, the change to the ESA regulations likely will not have a significant effect on unionized environments, where the negotiated terms of collective agreements will almost certainly continue to rule the day. However, in non-unionized facilities, this change should assist employers in the management of absenteeism for emergency leave.

As always, if you have questions about these changes, or about managing absenteeism in general, Siskinds’ Labour and Employment group welcomes your inquiries.

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