Leaves for Graduate Students

There are many students who successfully complete their program of study while caring for a new child and/or other family members. Staff members at the Family Care Office are available to meet with you individually to discuss your particular situation.

Planning a Leave from your Program of Study

Graduate students can apply for a leave of up to three terms to recognize the need for a leave for serious health or personal problems, or for parental leave. You can read the details of this policy on the School of Graduate Studies website. The School of Graduate Studies provides financial support to research-stream doctoral students who are having or adopting a baby, the SGS Parental Grant. Restrictions apply, please see if you qualify. Speaking to a financial advisor with the School of Graduate Studies will ensure you have explored all avenues of funding such as OSAP and bursaries, and have weighed the impact your leave can have on your OSAP standing.

To apply for a leave from your studies, you will need to complete a Leave of Absence Form available in your department or at the School of Graduate Studies.

Besides meeting with an SGS Financial Advisor, you can arrange to meet with a staff member at the Family Care Office to discuss any concerns you have about planning your leave, support, and to find out about resources that can help you plan for your new child or care for your aging family member. You should also speak to your graduate supervisor and thesis supervisor to discuss your plans. Another useful resource can be your Graduate Students’ Union.

Planning a Leave from Your Research Grant

If you have your own research funding or are on a stipend, you should find out how interrupting your award for reasons such as pregnancy, child rearing, illness or health-related family responsibilities will impact your funding. Some research councils offer benefits. It is important to find out what the policy is for your particular research award. If you need assistance in acquiring this information, you can contact Graduate Awards at the School of Graduate Studies at 416-946-0808 or email at graduate.awards@utoronto.ca.

Planning a Leave from Your Work (Including Your TA Position)

If you currently are working as well as studying, and have been with your current employer for at least 13 weeks, you may be entitled to a leave of absence and your job will be protected.

If you are pregnant, you are entitled to a 17-week pregnancy leave and up to 61 weeks of parental leave from work as outlined in Employment Standards. All other new parents are entitled to up to 63 weeks of parental leave.

There are unpaid, job-protected leaves that you may be able to access if you are caring for a seriously ill family member. Employment Insurance (EI) benefits may be available for some of these leaves.

Family Caregiver Leave

Family Medical Leave and EI Compassionate Care Benefits

Critical Illness Leave and EI Family Caregiver Benefit for Children / EI Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults

If you are a working at the University in a role such as a teaching assistant, your collective agreement may have policies for pregnancy, parental, adoption, non-birth parent and compassionate leave.

Employment Standards

The Employment Standards Act (ESA) sets out rights of employees and requirements that apply to employers in most Ontario workplaces. If you are protected by the ESA, you may have the right to take time off from work for pregnancy, parental, family caregiver, critical illness, and family medical leaves. For further information about these leaves and whether or not you are covered by ESA, then please refer to the Ministry of Labour website.

Employment Insurance

If you will be caring for a new child, a family member who is gravely ill and who has a significant risk of death, or for a critically ill child or adult, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance benefits. For further information, visit Service Canada.

Book an Appointment

Email us or call 416-978-0951 to book a confidential appointment with a staff member at the Family Care Office to discuss your particular situation.

Guide for graduate students with family responsibilities PDF download