The Ontario Gazette just announced in the latest issue that Ontario’s Bill 154, the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Organ Donor Leave), 2009 has received Royal Assent. The law will come into force on a date to be proclaimed at some point in the future. When this law comes into effect, employers in Ontario will be required to give up to 13 weeks unpaid leave to employees who are involved in transplant procedures for various organs (presently they are kidneys, livers, lungs, pancreas and small bowel but others could be added later to this list).
The explanatory note to the legislation speaks only to the situation where the employee is the donor of the organ, but doesn’t mention the situation where the employee is the recipient. However, the wording of the act seems to imply both situations. More importantly, I can foresee a situation where a person donates one of his/her kidneys or lungs as that person could live with only one of those organs. However, you only have one liver and one pancreas, it would seem odd to have someone be the donor of their only liver or pancreas and then go back to work 13 weeks later (unless it is possible to donate a part of the organ, which I would doubt – but I admit that I am neither a doctor nor do I play one on television). If my belief is correct that you cannot live without a full liver or pancreas, then the legislation would only make sense for these types of transplants where the employee is the recipient of the transplant.
While I would hope, for employee morale if no other reason, that most employers would be willing to give at least unpaid leave for such transplants, employers who may not wish to be so generous for whatever reason should now be aware that once this legislation is proclaimed to be in force, they will have no choice.