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Eligibility for parental leave | Time off for parental leave | Maintaining benefits during parental leave
By Annie Chong
|Canadian Payroll Reporter|Last Updated: 04/16/2019

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

Quebec: none

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

Alberta                                   62

British Columbia                      622

Manitoba                               63

New Brunswick                       622

Newfoundland and Labrador    61

Northwest Territories              373

Nova Scotia                            774

Nunavut                                 373

Ontario                                  61/635

Prince Edward Island               622

Quebec                                  526

Saskatchewan                         34/377

Yukon       37

1
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.

2
The maximum combined pregnancy/maternity leave and parental leave is 78 weeks.

3
The maximum combined pregnancy leave and parental leave is 52 weeks.

4
The maximum combined pregnancy leave and parental leave is 77 weeks.

5
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.

6
Quebec also allows for a five-week paternity leave.

7
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

Alberta                                 No

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

Manitoba                             No

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

Nunavut                               No

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

Yukon       No

1
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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