The Ministry of Labour is accepting submissions ONLY on the Personal Emergency Leave (PEL) outlined in the Changing Workplaces Review Interim Report until August 31. All other sections of the report have the deadline of October 14 to respond. We really encourage your organization to give feedback to the Ministry on this important issue. You can use the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services submission, which can be downloaded here.
We are calling on the Ontario Government to make Personal Emergency Leave accessible to all! PEL allows workers to take up to 10 days of unpaid leave per year to deal with personal illness, emergency, death or an illness and/or urgent matter concerning a family member. However, 1.6 million Ontario workers cannot use this leave because there is an exemption that stops workers in small workplaces (employing fewer than 50 employees) from accessing this important job protected leave.
Many Workers’ Action Centre members spoke out about this important issue at the Changing Workplaces Review public consultations that were held last summer. Too many workers are forced to go to work while sick, or send their kid to school while ill, because they cannot afford to lose their job. Many workers who work in small workplaces such as daycares, restaurants, nursing homes, fast food outlets, group homes and other health care facilities are not immune to getting sick or having personal emergencies! People who work in these valuable jobs need to ensure they are healthy for the families they work with every day however they have the least access to job-protected sick leave.
An attack on the flexibility of PEL is also a grave concern. An option that is under consideration by the government is that those 10 days will be restricted in their use, for example: only 3 days for personal illness or 3 days for family matters. In the absence of paid sick days in our laws, 10 days of FLEXIBLE unpaid personal emergency leave is a basic standard that many can rely on even though it means an unpaid day. Removing this flexibility under PEL would create another huge burden on women workers who are increasingly using this emergency leave to take care of aging family members.
If you are a member of a community group or frontline organization, please join Workers’ Action Centre and the Parkdale Community Legal Services before August 31 by making a submission to the Ministry of Labour to call for 10 days of Personal Emergency Leave for all workers in Ontario without exemptions or limitations.