Fact Sheet

Parental Leave

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.

Do employees get paid when on leave?

No. Employers are not required to pay wages to employees while on leave. For all leaves, the legislation only requires employers to provide the time off and allow employees to return to their job when the leave has ended. Employers can, and often do, give greater benefits than those provided for in the legislation.

However, other federal programs may provide income replacement. Employees should contact the federal government to find out what types of leaves have income replacement.

The only exception under The Employment Standards Code where an employer is required to pay a portion of a leave is under the Domestic Violence Leave.

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 tell their employers they are needing to take a leave. The employer will need enough detail to show the time off work meets the requirements of the leave.

When employees request time off, the employer should ask whether they are advising of a leave available under The Employment Standards Code or asking for approval for time off. Employers do not control when employees can take a leave provided by law, but they do control other types of time off work.

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 returned to the position the employee occupied when the leave began or to a comparable position, with not less than the pay and benefits the employee earned immediately prior to the 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?

There may be some circumstances where the employer does not have the exact job available for reasons completely unrelated to the leave. Employees would then be in the same situation as all ofther employees affected by those circumstances. Employers must show the leave had no impact on the decision to lay-off or terminate the employment.

For example, employees who are on an unpaid leave would not necessarily be protected from losing their job 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 job, or comparable job, with the same or greater pay and benefits when they return from leave. Employees who have been refused by their employer can file a complaint with Employment Standards within six months after the date the employee should have been reinstated.

How does an unpaid leave affect...

  • Termination?

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. See the Termination of Employment fact sheet for more details.

  • Vacation?

The leave does not affect the amount of vacation time 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 & Vacation Pay fact sheet for more details.

What happens to pension and other benefits while an employee is on leave?

Employment is considered continuous during a legislated leave of absence from work. This means an employee is still employed, though not earning wages for the period of the leave. When employees return from the leave, they are still entitled to any pension and other benefits they had before the leave. As well, their years of service include the time away on the leave.

Will the information about the leave be confidential?

Unless it is required by law or the employee has given consent, employers cannot disclose information related to a leave except to other persons in the workplace, who need to know in order to carry out their duties.

What is a period of employment?

The length of time from when an employee starts working for an employer until the day the employment ends.

The period of employment also includes periods of temporary interruption in employment (a layoff, an unpaid leave) seasonal employment, and when an employee returns to work for the same employer after a break of less than two months.  Employees who work in a seasonal industry and return to work with the same employer each season have continuous service. Each consecutive season they return adds one more year of service to their total period of employment.

For more information contact Employment Standards:

Phone:     204-945-3352 or toll free in Canada 1-800-821-4307

Fax:           204-948-3046

E-mail:     employmentstandards@gov.mb.ca

Website:  www.manitoba.ca/labour/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, The Construction Industry Wages Act , The Worker Recruitment and Protection Act, or contact Employment Standards.

Available in alternate formats
upon request.


Date Published: January 24, 2018