Organ donor leave is unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 13 weeks, for the purpose of undergoing surgery to donate all or part of certain organs to a person. In some cases, organ donor leave can be extended for up to an additional 13 weeks.

Qualifying for organ donor leave

An employee is entitled to organ donor leave whether he or she is a full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract employee.

To qualify for organ donor leave, the employee must:

  • Be covered by the ESA;
  • Have been employed by his or her employer for at least 13 weeks;
  • Undergo surgery to donate all or part of one of the following organs to another person:
    • Kidney
    • Liver
    • Lung
    • Pancreas
    • Small bowel

When an organ donor leave can begin

Generally, organ donor leave begins on the date of the surgery. It may begin on an earlier date, as specified in a certificate issued by a legally qualified medical practitioner.

Length of an organ donor leave

The employee may take leave for up to 13 weeks. The employee may extend the leave if a legally qualified medical practitioner issues a certificate stating that the employee is not yet able to perform the duties of his or her position because of the organ donation, and will not be able to do so for a specified period of time. The employee is entitled to extend the leave for the specified period of time.

The leave may be extended more than once, but the total period of extension must not be more than 13 weeks. Therefore, where the leave is extended, the maximum amount of time allowed for organ donor leave is 26 weeks in total.  Employees may also have the right to personal emergency leave


Gabriel began an organ donor leave on September 1, the day that he had surgery to donate part of his liver to his daughter.  Upon the employer’s request, he provided a medical certificate from his doctor in advance of the surgery.  After 13 weeks of organ donor leave, Gabriel was planning to return to work, but he had complications from the surgery that has hampered his recovery.  His doctor recommended extending Gabriel’s organ donor leave for another six weeks. Gabriel provided his employer with a medical certificate from his doctor stating this and extended his leave for an additional period of six weeks.

Notice requirements

An employee who wishes to take organ donor leave must provide the employer with at least two weeks’ written notice both before beginning or extending the leave, if possible. If this is not possible, the employee must provide written notice as soon as possible after beginning or extending the leave. However, if the employee does not provide notice to begin the leave, provided the employee meets the requisite criteria, the employee still has the right to take the leave.

The employee may end the leave early by giving the employer at least two weeks’ advance written notice.

Medical certificate

The employer may ask the employee to provide a medical certificate for the following reasons:

  • Confirming that the employee has undergone or will undergo surgery to donate an organ;
  • When the employee is to begin the leave if it is before the day of the organ donation surgery; and/or
  • To extend a leave for a period of time because the employee is not yet able to perform the duties of his or her position.

The employee must provide the certificate to the employer as soon as possible after the employer’s request.

Rights during leave

Employees who take organ donor leave are entitled to the same rights as employees who take pregnancy or parental leave. For example, employers cannot threaten, fire or penalize in any way an employee who takes or plans on taking an organ donor leave. See “Rights during pregnancy and parental leaves.”

The employee’s entitlement to organ donor leave is in addition to any personal emergency leave entitlement the employee may have.