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Gabrielle Giroday

Editorial: Legislating leaves?

The interesting facet of labour and employment law is how it impacts all of us in our daily lives.

While some areas of law are not likely to have direct spinoff effects on our day-to-day existence, changes to legislation in this area can have a wide-ranging ripple effect on employers and workers alike.  

This week, writer Michael McKiernan notes in a piece on paid leaves for victims of domestic and sexual violence that, before 2001, Ontario had just two types of job-protected leaves, related to pregnancy and parental leave.

That number has now reached 10 types of job-protected (but unpaid) leaves, including those for crime-related child death and for organ donors.

One lawyer has speculated that this might be an issue of provinces copying what other jurisdictions have underway.

“I’m not sure if there’s a survey going on, but a lot of the leaves are similar to ones in other provinces.

“Once a province passes one, and it seems to be working, others pick them up, and the wording in the legislation is often almost identical,” says Megan Beal, a lawyer with Filion Wakely Thorup Angeletti LLP.

“They’re not just falling out of the sky, although Ontario does seem to have more than most.”

The rapid growth of leaves available to Ontarians — even on extremely legitimate grounds — is a subject worthy of scrutiny. On one hand, I think it is admirable to protect rights of vulnerable people not fit to attend work.

However, the hard part may be for lawyers and other members of the public to track how widely these new provisions are actually used.

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