What are the sick leave entitlements in Ontario?

All employees (whether full-time or part-time) covered by the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA) are entitled to three days of unpaid, job-protected sick leave per year if they need to stay home due to:

  • Personal illness
  • Personal injury
  • Medical emergency

Employees can use their Ontario sick leave after they have worked for an employer for at least two consecutive weeks. They are not required to take all three sick days consecutively.

Is sick leave in Ontario paid?

No. Sick leave is unpaid under the law, but employers are free to provide paid sick days or more sick leave to staff if they wish to. While you can offer more entitlements, you cannot offer less than the minimum provisions listed in the ESA.

It is also illegal to punish or discriminate against your staff for exercising their right to take sick days when they need to.

When can employees in Ontario use their sick leave?

Sick leave may be used for any personal illness, injury, or medical emergency. But it can’t be taken to take care of ill or injured family members. The Ontario ESA provides other leaves of absence, such as Family Responsibility Leave, that employees can avail for such reasons. 

Employees can also use sick leave for pre-planned (elective) surgery, if it is for an illness or injury. But sick leave can’t be taken for cosmetic surgery that is not medically necessary or is unrelated to an illness or injury.

What are the notice requirements for taking sick leave in Ontario?

Employees must inform their employers that they are taking a sick day or days, usually before starting the leave. If the employee is unable to notify the employer in advance, they must do so at the earliest possible.

How should employees apply for sick leave?

Employers should set clear expectations on how an employee should report an absence, if and when you’ll require a doctor’s note as proof of illness, and who will take over job duties of the sick employee. It is a good practice to create a sick leave policy and share it with your staff.

Should I provide paid sick leave to my employees?

Offering paid sick leave to staff makes good business sense. Sometimes, sick employees may push themselves to come into work because they don’t want to lose wages. Not only is this bad for their health and productivity, but it also puts the rest of your staff and your clients at risk of infection. Providing paid sick leave will contribute towards a healthier and safer workplace. It is also a benefit that will help you attract and keep talent.

Do you have questions about sick leave provisions in Ontario?

Our HR experts can provide advice and assistance on any aspect of short- or long-term sickness in the workplace. We’ll ensure your policies and procedures are up to date and compliant with the law. Call us today at (1) 833-247-3650.