Can I take time off for sickness or personal emergencies?

Tell your employer and get proof that you need a leave

Ontario now gives up to 3 paid sick days off for people who have to take time off work because of COVID-19. Read Can I get paid sick days if I have COVID-19? for more information.

There are other also other leaves and benefits for people who have to take time off work because of COVID-19. See COVID 19 Employment and Work to learn more.

Tell your employer as soon as you know you need to take a leave of absence.

If you have to start your leave before talking to your employer, contact them as soon as you can to say:

  • why you need the leave, and
  • for how long.

Proving that you told your employer

If you speak to your employer in person or by phone, send an email or give them a note as soon as you can to confirm:

  • when you spoke, and
  • what you said.

That way, you have proof that you told your employer. This will help if your employer tries to punish you for taking time off work.

Proving that you need a leave of absence

Your employer can require you to prove that you need a leave of absence. But they can only require you to give proof that's “reasonable in the circumstances”.

What's reasonable depends on your situation, for example:

  • why you need the leave
  • how long you need the leave to be
  • any past leaves you've had or periods you've been away from work
  • whether you can get proof of why you need the leave
  • how much it would cost to get proof

Examples of proof

If you need proof for a sick leave, you might need to get a note signed by a doctor or other health professional.

The note should include:

  • how long you need the leave to be
  • when you went to the health professional
  • whether the health professional who signed the note saw you in person

Your employer does not have the right to know about your medical diagnosis or treatment.

If you need proof for a family responsibility leave, your employer can require you to tell them:

  • the name of the family member
  • how your family member is related to you
  • the reason you need to be away from work

If the leave is because your family member is sick or injured, your employer does not have the right to know about their diagnosis or treatment.

Other examples of proof you might need for family responsibility leave include a letter from your child's school or a police report.

To prove you need bereavement leave, you might have to show a death certificate, death notice, or obituary.

To prove you need domestic or sexual violence leave, you might have to show:

  • police reports
  • court documents
  • a letter from a health professional or a counsellor
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