Time Off Work for Personal and Family Reasons


Many family events may make it impossible — or at least very difficult — to go into work for a period of time: birth or adoption of a child, death of a family member, medical exams during pregnancy, marriage of a family member, etc. Fortunately, the law provides some protections in these situations.

If someone close to me 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 five days off:

  • two days off at your employer’s expense (paid leave)
  • three 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 your child 18 or older, your mother, father, spouse or common-law partner
  • death of your child 18 or older, your spouse or common-law partner, resulting from a crime

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 sécurité 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 to 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 any 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
  • your tutor and the tutor 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’ve worked for the same employer for at least three consecutive months and are absent for any of these reasons? The first two days off are paid. The other days are at your own expense.

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 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. The remaining days are unpaid.

To take leave, you need to notify your employer as soon as possible, and you must 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 CNESSTl.

There are also parental, paternity, and maternity leaves that maybe 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 and, as a result, you 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.


The Act respecting labour standards doesn’t apply to unpaid trainees. As for paid trainees, some rules in the Act respecting labour standards don’t apply to them.

That being said, if you’re a trainee, you still have the right to certain short-term leaves of absence. These rights may be different than the ones explained in this article. Your employer must also accommodate you if you need to take time off for certain reasons related to health or family. You can contact the CNESST to find out more.