Increased Maternity/Parental Leave and Caregiver Leave for Federally Regulated Employees

Authors: Walter Pavlic, Q.C., Lerina Koornhof

On December 3, 2017, employees in the federal sector become entitled to increased time off for maternity, parental and caregiver leaves of absence.

These changes affect only federally regulated employees, banking, public service, telecommunications and transportation. Provincially regulated work places will not be subject to these changes.

Previously, federally regulated employers were entitled to a combined period of 12 months of maternity and parental leave. Pregnant employees were entitled to take leave up to 11 weeks before the child’s estimated due date and up to 17 weeks after the birth of the child. Non-pregnant employees were entitled to parental leave of up to 37 weeks (which must occur within 52 weeks of the child’s date of birth or adoption placement). Employees become eligible for these leaves after six consecutive months of continuous employment.

Effective December 3, 2017, federally regulated employees are entitled to combined maternity and parental leaves totaling 18 months.

Pregnant employees will have the option to start maternity leave up to 13 weeks before the child’s due date. Parental leave will increase to 63 weeks, to be taken within 78 weeks after the child’s birth or date of adoption placement. Parents will still be entitled to share the parental leave period.

The EI monetary benefit will not increase. New EI applicants on or after December 3 will have the option to take the existing 12-month parental leave at a rate of 55% of their wage to a maximum of $543 per week or the new 18-month leave at a rate of 33% of their wage to a maximum of $326 per week. Maternity leave applicants can apply for EI up to 12 weeks before their estimated date of delivery.

Employees will now also be entitled to leave to act as a caregiver to individuals who are family or “like family.”

Caregiver Leave provides up to 15 weeks in a year to care for a critically ill adult and 35 weeks in a year to care for a critically ill child. Caregiver Leave will provide the same job protection and EI benefits as other categories of leave under the Canada Labour Code.

These increased leave periods are effectively immediately. Employers that offer employees wage top-up in addition to the EI benefits will have to revisit and evaluate those benefits.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.