Julie has worked for a restaurant for three years. Her father was just killed in a car accident. She wants to take time off work to be with her mother and take care of the funeral. But her employer says she must show up for work, or he will fire her! Does he have the right to do this?
This article explains how employees protected by a law called An Act Respecting Labour Standards can take off work for personal and family events. This time off is often called a "leave of absence."
To see if you are an employee covered by this law, see our article Workplace Protections in Quebec.
If someone close to you dies, how much time can I take off work?
If the person who died is a member of your immediate family (child, spouse, child of a spouse, father, mother, brother or sister) you have a right to this time off:
- one day off at your employer's expense (paid leave)
- four other days at your own expense (unpaid leave
You also have a right to 104 weeks off without pay in these situations:
- death of your child, if the child was under 18
- suicide of a child 18 or older, your mother, father, spouse or common-law partner
- death as a result of a crime of a child 18 or older, your spouse or common-law partner
If your child or spouse committed suicide, you have a right to take a one-year leave from your job, without pay.
If your child or spouse died as a result of a crime, you can take a two-year leave from your job, without pay.
If the person who died is your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandparent, grandchild or your spouse's father, mother, brother or sister, you can take one day off from work, without pay.
The rules are different if you work in the clothing industry. For more information on this, see the website of the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurtié du travail (CNESST or the labour standards, pay equity and workplace health and safety board).
Can I take a day off from work to get married or go the wedding of someone close to me?
Yes, on the day of your wedding or civil union, you can take a paid day off.
You can also be absent for the wedding or civil union of one of your children, your father, mother, sister or brother, or of the child of your spouse. In these cases, you will not be paid for this day off.
For all of these events, don't forget to notify your employer at least one week in advance.
How many days a year can I be absent to take care of my children's health or education, or the health of other people who are close to me?
You can be absent from work, without pay, for 10 days a year to fulfill obligations related to the care, health, or education of your children or your spouse’s or partner’s children, or due to the state of health of a person close to you or for whom you are a caregiver.
Under the labour standards law, “people close to you” include the following people:
- your spouse or common-law partner
- your child and the child of your spouse or partner
- your parents and the parents of your spouse or partner
- your brothers and sisters and the brothers and sisters of your spouse or partner
- your grandparents and the grandparents of your spouse or partner
- the spouses or common-law partners of all the people named above, as well as their children and the children’s spouses or partners
You’re also allowed to take time off for these people:
- any foster family that you or your spouse or partner had
- any foster children that you or your spouse or partner had
- the person to whom you or your spouse or partner is the tutor or curator
- your tutor or curator and the tutor or curator of your spouse or partner
- the person for whom you or your spouse or partner are the legal representative (mandatary)
- any other person you help or take care of because of her state of health and for which you receive government benefits
For example, you can be absent from work if your child is ill and must see a doctor. If you only need half a day off, you can take just half a day off, if your employer agrees.
You also have the right to be absent from work for 16 weeks per year, without pay, when you need to be with a person close to you or the person you take care of because of her a serious illness or a serious accident. You can be absent for up to 27 weeks if a medical certificate says the person is suffering from a serious and potentially fatal illness. If the person is your minor child (under 18), you can be absent up to 36 weeks.
You are also entitled to take this leave of 104 weeks in order to care for your minor child who was seriously injured as a result of a crime and can no longer do regular activities.
Your employer cannot punish you for being absent for these reasons. For more information on this subject, read our article Firing and Punishments in the Workplace.
How many days can I take off for pregnancy-related examinations? Will I be paid for those days?
You may take as many days off as needed for pregnancy-related examinations, whether they are to be conducted by a midwife or a physician. However, you will not be paid for these days.
Again, you must notify your employer as soon as possible. For more information, you can consult the article entitled Parental Leave, Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave.
After the birth or adoption of a child, how many days can I take off?
After the birth or adoption of a child, you can be absent from work for five days. If a pregnancy terminates (through miscarriage or abortion) during or after the 20th week, the woman and her spouse can also take this leave.
The two first days are paid if the worker has been working for at least 60 consecutive days for the same employer. The other days are unpaid. If you have been working for the same employer for less than 60 days, you can also be absent from work for five days, but all five days will be unpaid.
To take leave, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible, and you have to take the leave in the 15 days following the event. You may separate the five days if you want to. To learn more, visit the website of the CNESST.
There are also parental, paternity, and maternity leaves that may be added to, or replace, the above kinds of family leave. To find out more, read the article Parental Leave, Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave.
Can I take time off if I am injured as a victim of a crime?
Yes. You are allowed to take up to two years off from work if you are seriously injured in a crime against the person and, as a result, are unable to work normally.
The concept of injury includes physical and psychological injuries, as well as a pregnancy resulting from a sexual assault. This concept applies to the immediate victim of the crime as well as to the person who got injured while trying to help the victim, arrest the suspect, or help the police arrest the suspect.
You must alert your employer as soon as possible about your absence and its reasons. If you extend your absence, your employer has the right to ask for a document justifying your absence, such as a doctor's note or a police report.
Can I take time off from work if my child is reported missing?
Yes. You have the right to take an unpaid leave of 104 weeks if your child is missing.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.