Eligibility for parental leave
QUESTION: How long are employees required to work for their employer before they may take parental leave allowed under labour standards?
ANSWER: The minimum employment period to qualify for parental leave is governed by provincial/territorial labour standards laws and the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employees:
Canada Labour Code: six consecutive months
Alberta: 90 days
British Columbia: none
Manitoba: seven consecutive months
New Brunswick: none
Newfoundland and Labrador: 20 consecutive weeks
Northwest Territories: 12 consecutive months
Nova Scotia: none
Nunavut: 12 consecutive months
Ontario: 13 weeks
Prince Edward Island: 20 weeks
Saskatchewan: more than 13 consecutive weeks
Yukon: 12 months
Time off for parental leave
QUESTION: We are updating our parental leave policies to ensure that they comply with labour standards rules. We have employees in a number of provinces/territories. How much time off work may employees in each Canadian jurisdiction take under labour standards law?
ANSWER: The following chart sets out the number of weeks of parental leave allowed under labour standards rules in each jurisdiction:
Jurisdiction Number of weeks for parental leave under labour standards law
Canada Labour Code 63/711
British Columbia 622
New Brunswick 622
Newfoundland and Labrador 61
Northwest Territories 373
Nova Scotia 774
Prince Edward Island 622
Beginning March 17, 71 weeks of parental leave are available when more than one employee takes the leave for the same birth or adoption. The maximum parental leave that one employee may take for the same birth or adoption remains 63 weeks. In addition, effective March 17, the maximum combined maternity and parental leave that more than one employee may take for the same birth or adoption is 86 weeks. The maximum amount of combined maternity and parental leave that one employee may take for the same birth or adoption remains 78 weeks.
The maximum combined pregnancy/maternity leave and parental leave is 78 weeks.
The maximum combined pregnancy leave and parental leave is 52 weeks.
The maximum combined pregnancy leave and parental leave is 77 weeks.
The 61-week period applies to employees who also take a pregnancy leave. The 63-week period is for employees who do not take pregnancy leave.
Quebec also allows for a five-week paternity leave.
The 34-week period applies to employees who also take maternity leave or adoption leave. The 37-week period is for employees who do not take maternity or adoption leave. Proposed changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act would increase the length of parental leave from 34 weeks to 59 weeks for employees who also take maternity or adoption leave. For other parents, it would rise from 37 weeks to 63 weeks.
The labour standards requirements are minimums only. Employers may choose to change their policies to allow for longer periods of parental leave. Some jurisdictions also legislate a separate period of leave for adoption.
Maintaining benefits during parental leave
QUESTION: Are employers required to continue benefits coverage (for example: dental, prescription drugs) for employees who are on an unpaid parental leave?
ANSWER: The answer depends on the jurisdiction in which the employees work since parental leave requirements are governed by provincial/territorial labour standards laws and the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated workplaces, as the following table shows:
Jurisdiction Employer required to maintain benefits during a parental leave
Canada Labour Code Yes, if employees continue to pay any contributions that they would normally pay
British Columbia Yes, if the employer pays the total plan costs or, if the employer and employee share the cost, the employee opts to keep paying his/her portion
New Brunswick No
Newfoundland and Labrador No
Northwest Territories No
Nova Scotia Employers must give employees the option of maintaining benefits and may require them to pay 100 per cent of the cost1
Ontario Yes, unless employees notify their employer in writing that they do not want to continue to make the employee contributions (if any) to the plan
Prince Edward Island Employers must give employees the option of maintaining benefits while on leave, but are not required to pay the contributions1
Quebec Yes, as long as the employee continues to make the required (if any) contributions to the benefits plan
Saskatchewan Yes, as long as the employee pays the contributions required by the plan
Employers must give employees written notice of the option and the date it will no longer apply at least 10 days before the last day the employee may exercise the option without an interruption of benefits. Employees opting to continue will have to pay the cost to continue the benefits plus the employer’s share. The employer is responsible for processing the documents and the payment as arranged.
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