Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

New law protects jobs of parents of sick kids

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Parents of critically ill children would be able to take extended leaves from work without fear of losing their jobs under legislation introduced in the Manitoba legislature on Friday.

The bill would also protect the jobs of parents on leave because a child died or disappeared as a result of crime.

The legislation is designed to complement new federal income supports for families in these situations. The federal benefits will be available for parents of a murdered or missing child beginning in January. Benefits for parents of critically ill children are to begin in June.

"We want to make sure that if Manitoba families find themselves in that position, they can take advantage of those benefits, and they also don't have to fear losing their job if they take those leaves," Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard said after introducing Bill 3 in the legislature.

To qualify, employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 30 days and the child must be under age 18.

Employees entitled to these leaves from work include a person who has care, custody or control of the child.

In the case of missing children, the leave will be available where it is "probable, considering the circumstances, that the child disappeared as a result of a crime." A police investigation into the matter is required -- but it wouldn't necessarily require that Criminal Code charges be laid relating to the disappearance, a government spokesman said in an email.

An employee wishing to take one of these leaves would be required to give the employer advance notice of at least one pay period unless this is not possible. Notice of one pay period is also required when employees are returning to work early from the leave.

Provisions in the bill are based on unanimous recommendations by members of the province's Labour Management Review Committee, which is made up of business and labour representatives.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Protected leaves include:

Up to 37 weeks off to care for a critically ill child;

Up to 104 weeks off work if a child has died as a result of a crime; and

Up to 52 weeks off work if a child has disappeared as a result of a crime.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2012 A5

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