Parental leave gives parents the opportunity to take an unpaid leave from work, to care for a new child in their family, without the fear of job loss.
What is the difference between maternity leave and parental leave?Maternity leave is an unpaid leave, taken by mothers near the end of a pregnancy or immediately afterwards.
Parental leave is taken by fathers and mothers to care for a child after birth or adoption.
Who qualifies for parental leave?
Employees who have worked with the same employer for at least seven consecutive months and have become a parent by birth or adoption are entitled to the leave.
How long is parental leave?Parental leave is up to 37 weeks long and must be taken in one continuous period.
Does the employer need to pay during the leave?
No, employers are only required to provide the time off and allow employees to return to their job when the leave has ended. Employers are not required to pay wages during the leave but can, and often do, give greater benefits than those provided for in the legislation.
Are there programs to pay employees while on leave?
The federal government has income support programs to cover certain types of leave. To learn more, call Service Canada toll-free at 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).
How does an employee start parental leave?
Parental leave can begin up to one year after the birth or adoption of a child. Employees requesting parental leave must give the employer at least four weeks' written notice before the leave.
Employees who have taken maternity leave and also wish to take parental leave, must do so immediately following the maternity leave, unless the employer agrees to a different arrangement.
Who decides what type of leave an employee is taking?
Employees must tell their employer what type of leave they are taking. The employer will need enough detail to show that the time off work meets the requirements for the leave.
What if employees don't give notice?
Employees are still entitled to parental leave if they do not give four weeks' written notice. If an employee does not give notice, the leave can be shortened by the amount of notice not given. For example, an employee who only gives two weeks' written notice would be entitled to 35 weeks' leave instead of the full 37 weeks.
What happens when the leave ends?Employees must be allowed to return to their job, or a comparable job with the same or greater benefits and pay, when they return from leave. Employers may not discriminate or attempt to punish employees for taking a leave.
What if employees want to end their Maternity or Parental Leave early?Employees who want to return to work before their leave has ended must give their employers notice, in writing, at least, two weeks, or one pay period, whichever is longer, before returning to work.
What if the employee's job is no longer available?
Employees must be given a position that is comparable with the same pay and benefits, if the job they were doing prior to the leave is no longer available. There may be some circumstances where employers do not have a position available for reasons completely unrelated to the leave. For example, employees who are on unpaid leave would not necessarily be protected from losing their jobs if the employer shut down part of their operations and reduced their workforce based on a seniority system.
What if the employer refuses to bring the employee back to work?
Employees must be allowed to return to their previous job, or a comparable one, with no loss in pay or responsibilities. Employees who believe they were demoted or terminated because they took or requested a leave can file a claim with Employment Standards.
Employers who do not allow an employee to return to work after a leave may be ordered to pay compensation, and in some cases ordered to return the employee to their job.
How does an unpaid leave affect...
When it comes to how much notice an employer or an employee has to give upon termination, the amount of time spent on the leave has to be included in determining the length of service.
The leave does not affect the amount of vacation time that an employee is entitled to, as the time spent on leave is included in the employee’s length of service. However, since vacation pay is a percentage of wages earned, the leave will affect the vacation pay. See the Vacations and Vacation Pay fact sheet for more details.
What happens to pension and other benefits while an employee is on leave?
While employees are on unpaid leave the employment is deemed to be continuous. When employees return from the leave they are still entitled to any benefits they had before the leave, and their years of service include the time away on the leave.
For more information contact Employment Standards:
This is a general overview and the information used is subject to change. For detailed information, please refer to current legislation including The Employment Standards Code and The Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, or contact Employment Standards to ask for advice.
Date Published: May 16, 2013