What Does “Protected Leave” Mean?

Under the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and/or the Human Rights Code, employees are entitled to “protected” leaves of absences. Some examples are Personal Emergency Leave days, Maternity/Parental leave and Compassionate Leaves.

“Protected” leave simply means that if an employee exercises their right to take one of these leaves, their right to return to their current job and wage are protected under law. This simply means that if an employee is off, the employer can’t make significant detrimental changes to the job or wage that the employee had when they went off work.

Are there “unprotected leaves”? Yes! For example, in cases where an employee has used all of their vacation or sick time, and they request an unpaid leave of absence, this leave is not protected under the ESA and likely would not be protected under Human Rights either.

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