This type of leave is normally jobprotected.
“Employees need to be able
to ensure that their job is there and they
don’t lose their position because they’ve
exercised their rights under the Act,” said
Cabel. “Employers understand that, but
whether they really understand how to
implement that is a different question;
that’s something we often give advice on.”
Whether the leave necessitates hiring
a temporary worker or passing duties to
another employer for the duration of the
leave, “communication is key amongst those
employees, and also ensuring that, if you
have to hire, it’s a temporary contract – it’s
like a maternity leave,” she said.
The Canada Labour Code provides for
EI-eligible workers to claim up to eight
weeks of compassionate care leave, with
six weeks EI compassionate care benefits
plus a two-week waiting period. Employers
may extend their own compassionate
care benefits to employees, without affecting
their EI premium rate reduction.
“Some companies are topping up the
federal government plan and offering eight
weeks leave with six weeks paid,” said Sharon
Baxter, executive director of CHPCA.
“Some are topping up to full pay; some
are actually extending it to allow for additional
Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline
has been a leader in this area.
“GSK was the first company in Canada
to offer what we call a Compassionate Care
Benefit; that was before the federal government
had one in 2004,” Baxter said. “They
gave 13 weeks over and above the government
plan that can be taken within any
two-year period.” Also, in partnership with
the CHPCA, the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation
has created a public awareness and
social marketing campaign called the Living
Lessons initiative to support patients, their
families and health care providers.
Other forward-thinking employers are
developing their own compassionate care
“Workplaces need to look at this because
it just makes good business sense,”
said Firth. “Providing accommodations for
people who are caring for someone who
is dying is one of the ways to reduce caregiver
stress, avoid burnout and improve
the overall performance. Workers who are
supported through situations like this are
“MANY COMPANIES ARE SAYING THEY’RE
OFFERING CAREGIVER ACCOMMODATION
AS ONE-OFFS, AND WE’RE SAYING
THAT THEY SHOULD PUT IT INTO
THEIR EMPLOYMENT POLICIES…”
– SHARON BAXTER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR,
CANADIAN HOSPICE PALLIATIVE CARE ASSOCIATION
Continued on page 40
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38 ❚ FEBRUARY 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL