Ontario to ban doctor's notes for sick leave in proposed workplace bill

Jun 8 2017, 10:52 pm

Major changes are on the horizon for personal and sick leave in Ontario.

The Government of Ontario is looking to expand personal emergency leave to include a minimum of two paid days per year for all workers, as well as banning the requirement of doctor’s notes as part of its proposed Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act.

Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins were at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto on Thursday to discuss the government’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, introduced last week.

If the legislation passes, it will create the following changes beginning on January 1, 2018:

  • All employees would receive 10 days of personal emergency leave (PEL) per year, including two paid PEL days.
  • Employers would be prohibited from requesting a sick note from an employee taking personal emergency leave.
  • The reasons for taking personal emergency leave would be expanded so that employees experiencing domestic or sexual violence, or the threat of sexual or domestic violence, could take the leave. This is in addition to the existing reasons that PEL days may be taken, which include illness, injury or other urgent matters related to an individual or certain family members.

“This proposed change in the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act means that employers are now banned from asking workers for a doctor’s note when they call in sick, for the first ten personal emergency leave days a worker needs to take off each year,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, in a statement. “When you’re sick with the flu or a bad cold, you should be at home getting rest, and the last place you want to be is in a doctor’s office.”

Personal emergency leave currently applies only in workplaces with 50 or more employees. Under the proposed changes, this threshold would be eliminated.

The new proposed workplace legislations follow the announcements of a higher minimum wage proposal, as well as access to free medications for their children as part of OHIP+: Children and Youth Pharmacare Program.

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