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Time away from work after your infant loss

After a loss it can be difficult to access and understand information that will support you and your family, which includes information about taking time off from work. Being away from your job can allow you to grieve, heal physically, access healthcare and/or support services, and make arrangements (eg. funeral, financial, travel). The decision to go on a leave from work will depend on many factors including what you are eligible for, what you can afford financially, and your personal loss experience. It is important to remember that you may be eligible for more than one type of leave benefit and to explore all of the options appropriate to your situation. You may find it helpful to have a trusted support person, as well as your human resources (HR) representative and/or a social worker, assist you in determining how to receive all of the time and financial benefits you are entitled to.

During the days and weeks after a loss it can be quite overwhelming to read, understand, and act on the information in this document. Here is a list of the main points to begin, followed by more detailed information:

  • You may be eligible for more than one type of benefit to support your time away from work
  • It is often too difficult to explore these options yourself. If this is the case for you, you may want to consider asking a trusted family member or friend to help you
  • If you require time off from work at any point before, during, or after your loss due to any associated medical issues (including emotional or psychological distress) you can request written documentation from a care provider to support you in doing so
  • Many parents will qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits
  • You may be entitled to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) child death leave
  • There may be other types of time off available from your employer’s HR and/or insurance policies
  • For assistance or clarification about your options for time away from work contact Employment Standards Act (ESA), Service Canada – Employment Insurance (EI), your HR representative, or another support person (eg. Social Worker)
Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

The EI program (Government of Canada) provides special benefits to workers who take time off work due to specific life events. If you do not feel ready to return to work after your other benefits have ended, please speak with a healthcare provider about applying for sickness benefits, which provide up to 15 weeks of temporary financial assistance to employees who are unable to work because of a health issue. To qualify you must meet certain criteria and have a healthcare provider complete the Medical Certificate for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits. To find out if you are eligible, you are asked to apply online. To speak with someone directly about any questions you may have, please call 1-800-206-7218 (TTY: 1-800-529-3742) or access the nearest Service Canada office.

The Employment Standards Act (ESA)
In Ontario, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) provides standards as well as rights and responsibilities for most employees and workplaces, which include how much time off parents are granted after the loss of their child. The information below is based on the ESA guidelines.

If you have experienced the death of your infant you may be entitled to the ESA child death leave, which is an unpaid job-protected leave of absence, which provides up to 104 weeks of time away from work for a parent whose child* dies. If your baby has died as the result of a crime, you may be eligible for the crime-related child disappearance leave and the Federal Income Support grant.

*”Child” means a child, step-child, child under the legal guardianship of the employee or foster child who is under 18 years of age

Other Types of Leave/Time Off
In addition to ESA entitlements and EI benefits you may be eligible for time off, with or without pay, based on your employer’s policies. Options that may be available to support your time away from work include sick time, short-term disability (STD), and long-term disability (LTD). Again, this will depend on your particular workplace policies and insurance plan. Your employer might also decide to provide you with time off due to unforeseen or exceptional circumstances, which may not be fully represented within their existing policies. Asking your HR representative or a social worker to help you explore these options is a good place to start.