The Corporation of the Town of Oakville · Procedure HR-MNG-001-005

Unpaid Leave of Absence

Procedure Number:
HR-MNG-001-005
Parent Policy:
HR-MNG-001
Section:
Human Resources
Sub-Section:
Manage
Author:
Human Resources Department
Authority:
CAO
Effective Date:
2006 May 29
Review by Date:
2022
Replaces:
06-01-06, Formerly HR-MNG-004-001
Last Modified:
2017 Jan 30

Purpose Statement

This procedure outlines the terms, conditions and criteria for granting an unpaid leave of absence and the options for benefit coverage during such leave.

Scope

This procedure applies to all non-union employees and union employees subject to the terms and conditions in their respective collective agreements.

This procedure covers unpaid personal leaves of absences, excluding legislatived leaves

Procedure

  1. Requests for an unpaid leave of absence up to 12 months may be granted at the discretion of the Director and Commissioner.
  2. For a leave of absence greater than 12 months, or a contiguous leave of absence extended beyond 12 months, approval of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is required in consultation with the Director of Human Resources.
  3. A request for an unpaid leave of absence must be addressed in writing to the employee’s Director. The request must define the reason for and the duration of the proposed unpaid leave.
  4. A request for a leave of absence for alternate employment will not be considered.
  5. The leave of absence request must be made as far in advance as possible.

Criteria for Granting an Unpaid Leave of Absence

  1. Requests for unpaid leave will be considered based on the following criteria:
    1. operational requirements;
    2. length of service of employee;
    3. the period of leave requested;
    4. reason for the leave;
    5. the need and availability of a replacement;
    6. cost-benefit to the town and benefit to employee;
    7. the value of the professional development opportunity, if any.
  2. An employee must exhaust all time off credits (such as, but not limited to earned vacation entitlements, overtime, lieu time or any other paid leaves) prior to the commencement of an unpaid leave of absence.

Approval Process

  1. An application for an unpaid leave of absence shall be made on an unpaid leave of absence form.  An unpaid leave of absence requires the approval of an employee’s Manager/Supervisor, Director, Commissioner, CAO (if required under this procedure) and the Director of Human Resources (hereinafter referred to as administrator(s).
  2. Any unpaid leave of absence for Commissioners or the CAO is subject to Council approval.
  3. The administrator(s) responsible will approve or deny employee requests based on the established criteria and notify an employee of the decision.
  4. The department director shall prepare and forward to the Human Resources department a change of status form, at the time the leave is granted.
  5. The decision of management with respect to the request for an unpaid leave of absence will be final.
  6. Following approval of an unpaid leave of absence, the employee must contact the Payroll and Benefits section of the Finance department (Payroll section) to discuss continued employee benefits and OMERS options.

Benefit Coverage during an Unpaid Leave of Absence

  1. Town employees who are eligible and who will remain Ontario residents during an unpaid leave of absence will be given the option of continuing the following benefits at his/her own expense for the duration of the leave:
    1. Extended Health Care, including emergency travel assistance;
    2. Dental Care;
    3. Basic Life;
    4. Optional Life;
    5. Optional Spousal Life;
    6. Accidental Death & Dismemberment; and
    7. Health Care spending account.
  2. If an employee opts to continue benefit coverage, routine health and dental care expenses are not eligible during any out of Province travel. Employees should refer to the Emergency Travel Assistance benefit provisions for details of out of Province coverage.
  3. If benefits coverage is not continued at the employee’s expense, no coverage will be provided and the insurance carrier’s regulations on re-enrollment shall apply.
  4. Employees are responsible for remitting benefit payment directly to the town by post-dated cheques for applicable monthly premiums (plus applicable taxes). Post-dated cheques are made out to the Town of Oakville, dated for the first day of each month and submitted to Payroll section prior to commencement of the leave.
  5. Employer Sponsored Programs: In order to continue in employer sponsored programs funded through employee’s deductions such the Computer Purchase Plan Program, post dated cheques must be issued payable to the Town of Oakville prior to the commencement of the leave of absence and submitted to the Payroll section.
  6. Cheques returned as non-sufficient funds (NSF) may cause the cessation of all benefits purchased or the benefit for which the cheque was issued for. An administration fee shall apply to any NSF cheque.
  7. Sick/WSIB Benefits: There will be no access to short term sick leave, long term disability or WSIB during an unpaid leave of absence.
  8. Employee Assistance Program: Access to the Employee Assistance Program in effect at the time of the leave will not be restricted during the leave period.
  9. OMERS: A leave of absence will be reported to OMERS.  An OMERS election form will be sent to the employee upon their return to work.  If the employee elects not to make the contributions this will result in broken service with OMERS.  If the employee elects to make the contributions and keep their pension whole for this period, they will be responsible for their contributions plus the town’s contributions.  Employees with questions about the OMERS pension plan can contact an OMERS Client Services representative at 416-369-2444 or toll-free at 1-800-387-0813 or at client@omers.com.
  10. Vacation/Holiday Accruals: An employee on unpaid leave of absence will not accrue paid vacation, nor earn pay for statutory holidays or for jury duty or bereavement purposes for the period of the unpaid leave of absence.
  11. Seniority provisions: Seniority provisions, if applicable, will be governed by the appropriate collective agreement in place for the employee.

Applying for another job with the town during an Unpaid Leave of Absence

An employee on an unpaid leave of absence may apply for town advertised or posted job vacancies. Employees are responsible for keeping themselves informed about such vacancies and making themselves available for the selection process.  If selected, the continuation of the unpaid leave of absence is subject to the discretion of the hiring department.

Return to Work

  1. An employee must return to work on the date mutually agreed upon, prior to the commencement of the leave of absence.
  2. Failure to return to work on the agreed date without notice to the department Director will be treated as a voluntary resignation from the town.
  3. Request for an early return from leave should be addressed in writing to the employee's immediate Director, as far in advance as possible but no less than 3 weeks of the preferred return date for a leave of absence.
  4. The employee's Director in conjunction with the Commissioner may, in writing, with a copy to the Director of Human Resources, approve or deny a request for an early return from an unpaid leave of absence based on operational, budgetary and departmental needs.
  5. The decision of management, with respect to the request for an early return from an unpaid leave of absence, shall be made expeditiously and the decision to approve or deny a request for an early return is final.
  6. An employee may be reinstated to his or her former position on returning to the town's employ, where possible and practical, subject to any layoffs, recalls, or restructuring undertaken during the unpaid leave of absence.  In some circumstances, an employee may need to delay a return to work until a suitable opening is available.
  7. Employees must be willing to undergo re-training upon return to the workplace, if required.
  8. An employee returning from an unpaid leave of absence shall, at a minimum, maintain the salary held prior to commencing the leave.

Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the Director of Human Resources:

  1. to administer the procedure in accordance with its purpose;
  2. to provide guidance and counsel to employees and managers on its application;
  3. to report on its use to the CAO on a regular basis;  and
  4. to recommend any changes to its design or administration.

It is the responsibility of the department Director:

  1. to consult with the Director of Human Resources, or his or her designate, on an unpaid leave of absence request;
  2. to grant or deny an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with the provisions of this policy and, if necessary;
  3. to make a recommendation to his or her Commissioner on an unpaid leave of absence.

It is the responsibility of the Commissioner:

  1. to consult with the Director of Human Resources, or his/her designate, on an  unpaid leave of absence request;
  2. to grant or deny an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with the provisions of this policy and, if necessary;
  3. to make a recommendation to the CAO on an unpaid leave of absence that is greater than 12 months.

It is the responsibility of the CAO:

  1. to consult with the Director of Human Resources, or his/her designate, on an  unpaid leave of absence request any leave of absence in excess of twelve months;
  2. to grant or deny an unpaid leave of absence in accordance with the provisions of this procedure that is greater than 12 months;
  3. to authorize any changes to this procedure.

It is the responsibility of the eligible employee who has requested and been granted an unpaid leave of absence:

  1. to request for assistance from the Human Resources department in completing the leave of absence agreement;
  2. to abide by the terms and provisions of the unpaid leave of absence;
  3. to make any applicable funding arrangements for benefits coverage with  the Payroll section prior to commencement of leave.