March 04, 2014

Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Standards Act Amendments Extend Employment Protection for Some Parents

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Amendments to Newfoundland and Labrador’s Labour Standards Act, R.S.N.L. 1990 c L-2, were given royal assent on December 10, 2013. These amendments provide employment protection in the form of unpaid leave to parents of critically ill minor children or minor children who have gone missing or have died as a result of a crime.

To avail of this leave, the employee must be a parent, or a partner of a parent who has been cohabiting continuously in a conjugal relationship with a parent for at least one year. The definition of parent includes adoptive parents, foster parents, and others who have the care or custody of the child and are considered to be like a close relative. The parent must also be employed by the employer for at least 30 days.

Employees are required to limit the duration of leave to that which is reasonably necessary in the circumstances to a maximum, as follows:
  • When a child has died and it is probable that the death was due to a crime: 104 weeks
  • When a child has disappeared and it is probable that the disappearance was due to a crime: 52 weeks
  • When a child is critically ill and requires the care or support of parent: 37 weeks
Two weeks’ notice in writing is required to be provided to the employer before the leave of absence commences, unless there is a valid reason why the notice cannot be given. Such notice must include identification of the duration of leave the employee intends to take. While on leave, two weeks’ written notice is required to be given to the employer if there is any change to the duration of leave required. Again, a lack of notice is excusable if there is a valid reason why it cannot be given.

If the absence is in relation to a child who is critically ill, the employee must also supply to his or her employer, as soon as possible, a certificate from a physician that states that the child is critically ill and that he or she requires the care or support of the parent. The duration for which the child requires that care or support must be specified in the certificate.

The time spent on such leave does not count towards the rights, benefits and privileges conferred under the Labour Standards Act such as for the calculation of vacation leave, but the time worked before the leave is to be deemed continuous with the period worked after the leave.

This legislative amendment provides the employee with protection against dismissal because he or she intends to take, applies for, or actually takes such leave. At the end of the leave period, the employer must reinstate the employee to his or her employment on terms and conditions not less beneficial than those that existed before the leave began.

Bill 17, An Act to Amend the Labour Standards Act (Full Copy)

Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada:

Nova Scotia - The Labour Standards Code was amended on May 10, 2013 to provide similar protections: Labour Standards Code (PDF Version)

New Brunswick - Bill 22 proposes to provide similar protections, but has not yet been passed into law. Bill 22 (PDF Version)

Prince Edward Island - There are presently no similar legislative protections in Prince Edward Island.

For more information, please contact Terri Higdon at

Cox & Palmer publications are intended to provide information of a general nature only and not legal advice. The information presented is current to the date of publication and may be subject to change following the publication date.