Compassionate Care & Compassionate or Bereavement Leave

You may need to take time off work to care for a family member who is terminally ill, or on the death of a family member. The first type of leave is called a compassionate care leave, and the second type of leave is known as a compassionate or bereavement leave.

What is the compassionate care leave?

There are provincial and federal government programs in place that allow you to take a compassionate care leave to care for a terminally ill family member.

There are two parts of a compassionate care leave. You need to apply for both of them:

  • an unpaid leave from UBC of up to eight weeks that you are entitled to under the BC Employment Standards Act, and
  • a compassionate care benefit where you receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits for 26 weeks if you meet eligibility requirements.

A compassionate care leave provides up to eight weeks of job-protected unpaid leave for you to care for or support a family member if a medical practitioner issues a certificate stating that your family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks.

You may also be eligible for up to 26 weeks of EI compassionate care benefits from Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC). These benefits are administered by Service Canada.

If you wish to take additional leave beyond what is stipulated under the BC Employment Standards Act, you must request this in writing from your supervisor and any approved additional leave will be considered a general unpaid leave and you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the benefits and pension you choose to maintain.

Who is considered a family member?

You may receive EI compassionate care benefits to care for a terminally ill eligible family member, as defined by ESDC.

You may also receive EI compassionate care benefits to care for a terminally ill person if that person considers you a family member, such as a close friend or neighbour. You must submit a signed Compassionate Care Benefits Attestation form from the terminally ill person or their legal representative.

What are the EI compassionate care benefits?

You can receive up to 26 weeks of EI compassionate care benefits from Service Canada within a 52-week period if you:

  • meet Employment Insurance (EI) eligibility rules (600 insurable hours in the 12-month period before the start of the leave) and
  • serve a one-week waiting period.

The payment is generally around 55% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount. For 2018, the maximum is $547/week.

You may share the 26 weeks of EI compassionate care benefits with another family member who is also providing care. Only one person is required to serve the one-week unpaid waiting period. Each family member can claim the benefits at any time during the 52-week period, either at the same time or at different times.

How and when do I apply for an unpaid compassionate care leave and EI benefits?

You should apply for a leave of absence from your department in writing, notifying them of the dates you expect to leave and return to work.

You will also need to include a copy of the medical certificate from a doctor or medical practitioner stating that your family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks and requires the care or support of one or more family members. Save the original for your EI compassionate care benefits application. The personal information provided in the medical certificate is collected under section 26(c) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c. 165 and will be used for the purposes of leave administration.

Your department will then notify Financial Operations – Payroll that you are going on leave.

To coincide with EI payment weeks and avoid any possible loss of EI benefits begin your leave on a Monday and end it on a Sunday (return from the leave on a Monday).

You should apply for EI compassionate care benefits through Service Canada  as soon as possible after you stop working. If you delay applying for benefits later than four weeks after your last day of work, you risk losing these benefits.

A Record of Employment (ROE) is required for your EI application. Your Payroll Representative will automatically send your ROE electronically to Service Canada after your last paycheque and before the start date of your leave. You do not need to request a ROE from UBC.

If you would like to speak with someone at UBC regarding your Record of Employment:

When can I start my compassionate care leave and EI compassionate care benefits?

You may start your unpaid compassionate care leave and EI compassionate care benefits on the earlier of the following weeks, and within 52 weeks of that week:

  • the week the doctor signs the medical certificate, or
  • the week the doctor examines the terminally ill family member, or
  • the week the family member became terminally ill, if the doctor can determine that date (for example, the date of the test results).

You do not need to take your leave all at once. You can take the leave in units of one or more weeks.

When does my EI compassionate care benefits end?

Your EI compassionate care benefits will end:

  • when 26 weeks of compassionate care benefits have been paid to you or other caregivers; or
  • after the terminally ill family member dies or no longer requires care or support (benefits are paid to the end of the week); or
  • the 52-week period has expired.

The maximum number of EI compassionate care benefits that is payable is 26 weeks. However, you may also take EI compassionate care benefits consecutively with EI family caregiver benefits (see next section).

I read about the new EI family caregiving benefit. Will these benefits apply to me?

You may also be eligible for EI caregiving benefits to care for a critically ill or injured family member or person that considers you a family member (up to 15 weeks to care for an adult over age 18 or up to 35 weeks to care for a child under age 18) from Employment & Social Development Canada (ESDC). You will apply for the EI caregiving benefits for adults or children through Service Canada.

You may take EI compassionate care benefits consecutively with EI caregiving benefits (you can receive EI caregiving benefits after your EI compassionate care benefits come to an end; or you can receive EI compassionate care benefits after your EI caregiving benefits in the unfortunate event that the critically ill or injured person’s health deteriorates. In this case, you must meet the eligibility criteria for both benefits.

The BC Employment Standards Act currently does not include family caregiver leave; if you plan to apply for EI caregiving benefits you will need to apply for a general unpaid leave and you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the benefits and pension you choose to maintain.

Will I still receive my benefits when I’m on compassionate care leave?

See the section Benefits Coverage while on a Leave for more information.

Compassionate or bereavement leaves

If a family member dies, you may be eligible to take paid leave.

UBC Employee  Group Allowed Length of Compassionate or Bereavement Leave
Academic Executive Not eligible.
Administrative Executive You will be granted three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, grandparent, spouse, partner, child, in-law, brother or sister.

Upon request, there is the option to extend your paid leave for an additional three days.

BCGEU Childcare You will be granted three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a child, (including stepchild), parent, spouse, partner, sibling, parent-in-law, grandparents, grandchildren and any other relative permanently residing with you.

Upon request, there is the option to extend your paid leave for an additional three days.

BCGEU Okanagan You will be granted up to five days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as  a parent, spouse, partner, sibling, child, partner’s child, ward, grandparent, grandchild, mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and any other relative permanently residing with you or who you reside with.

As well, with the approval of your department head, you may also have one day’s leave without a deduction in pay to attend a funeral of a friend or relation not defined as above.

CUPE 116 You will be granted five days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, spouse, partner or child.

You are entitled to three days of paid leave for the death of a brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandmother, grandfather or grandchild.

Permanent staff of the UBC Aquatics Centre are entitled to up to three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, step-parent, spouse, partner, child, brother, sister, parents-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren. To be eligible for a leave for the death of a partner, you must have cohabitated with your partner for one year before their death

CUPE 2278 Not eligible.
CUPE 2950 You will be granted three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, grandparent, spouse, partner, child or ward, grandchild, brother, sister, father-in-law or mother-in-law.

Upon request, there is the option to extend your paid leave for an additional three days. With the approval of your department head, you may also have a half-day of leave without a deduction in pay to attend a funeral or memorial service.

Executive Administrative You will be granted three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, grandparent, spouse, partner, child, ward, brother, sister, grandchild, or in-law

Upon request, there is the option to extend your paid leave for an additional three days. Upon approval, you may also have a half-day paid leave to attend a funeral or memorial service. The half day may be extended to a full day if you have a significant role in arranging or conducting the service or ceremony.

Faculty Not eligible.
Farm Workers You are entitled to five days of paid leave for the death of your parent, spouse, partner or child.

You are entitled to three days of paid leave for the death of a brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandmother, grandfather or grandchild.

In special circumstances, you may be granted further leave without loss of pay or benefits. Upon approval, you may also have a half-day paid leave to attend a funeral or memorial service. The half day may be extended to a full day if you have a significant role in arranging or conducting the service or ceremony.

IUOE 882 You will be granted three to five days of paid leave for the death of a family member. With the approval of your department head, you may also have a half-day of leave without a deduction in pay to attend a funeral or memorial service.
Management & Professional You will be granted three days of paid leave for the death of an immediate family member, which is defined as a parent, grandparent, spouse, common-law spouse, same sex partner, child, in-law, brother or sister.

Upon request, there is the option to extend your paid leave for an additional three days.

Non-Union Technicians and Research Assistants You are entitled to five days of paid leave for the death of your parent, spouse, partner or child.

You are entitled to three days of paid leave for the death of a brother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, grandmother, grandfather or grandchild.

In special circumstances, you may be granted further leave without loss of pay or benefits. Upon approval, you may also have a half-day paid leave to attend a funeral or memorial service. The half day may be extended to a full day if you have a significant role in arranging or conducting the service or ceremony.

Postdoctoral Fellows (Award Recipients) You may take bereavement leave in accordance with your fellowship/granting agency. Ensure that your supervisor is informed of your leave and the reason for it.
Post-doctoral Fellows (Employees) You are entitled to up to three days of unpaid leave on the death of a member of your immediate family, which is defined as a spouse, child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent of an employee; and any person who lives with the employee as a member of the employee’s family. These days do not have to be consecutive, or start on the date of death. At the discretion of the Department and Supervising Faculty member, you may be paid bereavement leave.