Paid time off for new parents

Those who have worked for the same company for at least 90 days are eligible for paid parental and maternity leave. Workers who qualify can take unpaid time off to care for a new child or sick relative without fear of repercussions to their employment. Eligible workers are entitled to

  • Those who have worked for the same company for at least 90 days are eligible for paid parental and maternity leave.
  • Workers who qualify can take unpaid time off to care for a new child or sick relative without fear of repercussions to their employment.
  • Eligible workers are entitled to paid leave from their employers during times of pregnancy or childbirth, and their employers must reinstate them to the same position or one of equal pay and benefits upon their return.
  • Except as otherwise provided in an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement, employers have no legal obligation to continue paying wages or providing benefits to employees while they are on leave.
  • When determining an employee's length of service, time spent on parental or maternity leave is counted as time spent actively working.

Maternity leave is 16 weeks long, and paternity leave can last up to 62 weeks.

Qualifications for Employment

If an employee has worked for the same company for at least 90 days, she or he is eligible for paid parental leave.

Leave requests from employees with less than 90 days of service are still being considered. However, their employers are not obligated to provide them with leave under employment standards law.

Employees who become pregnant or who have recently given birth are protected from being forced to resign or laid off by their employers.

If you want more information, you can contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

The employer is not required to provide parental leave to both parents at the same time even if they work for the same company.

Duration of Vacation

Paid time off for expecting mothers

Expectant mothers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave. Since there is a one-week waiting period before Employment Insurance benefits kick in, the total number of weeks of leave is one week higher than the benefit period. Before taking time off, workers should be aware of this.

You are welcome to begin your leave of absence at any time during the 13 weeks preceding your due date, but no later than the day your child is born.

The employer has the right to require an employee to begin maternity leave earlier than the standard 12 weeks before the employee's due date if the employee's pregnancy causes a significant disruption to the employee's ability to perform their job duties.

For health reasons, new mothers should rest for at least six weeks after giving birth unless:

  • if the business permits the worker to come back to work sooner than expected,
  • A doctor's note is provided stating that the worker's health is not in danger if she returns to work.

Failure to conceive

A pregnancy loss occurs whenever the pregnancy does not result in a healthy live birth.

An employee is still eligible for maternity leave but not parental leave if a miscarriage occurs within 16 weeks of the due date. After 16 weeks of leave, you will have to return to work.

Female workers who suffer a miscarriage may also qualify for bereavement leave.

Leave for Parents

Both biological and adoptive parents are entitled to 62 weeks of unpaid leave. Due to the waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits, the total number of weeks of leave is greater than the benefit period itself by one week. Before taking time off, workers should be aware of this.

Those who qualify for parental leave are those who:

  • birth mother, right after she returns from maternity leave,
  • an additional parent,
  • parent(s) who adopted their child(ren)
  • both sets of parents, split evenly

After the birth or placement of a child for adoption, parents are entitled to take leave for up to 78 weeks.

Advising others

Proof of good health

A medical certificate attesting to the employee's pregnancy and providing an expected delivery date may be required by their employer. A physician or nurse practitioner can provide a medical clearance.

Leaving on a trip

At least six weeks prior to the start of parental leave, employees are required to provide written notice to their employers. Employees are not obligated to provide a return date at that time, but may do so if they so choose.

Parents are still entitled to leave if they fail to provide notice for medical reasons or circumstances related to the birth or adoption of a child.

  • Within 2 weeks of the mother's last day of work (or as soon as possible thereafter), the mother must give written notice to her employer and submit a medical certificate indicating that she is no longer able to work due to her pregnancy.
  • As soon as possible, notify your employer in writing that you will be taking parental leave.

Unless she had previously agreed to take only 16 weeks of maternity leave, a birth mother who is currently on maternity leave is not required to notify her employer that she will soon be taking parental leave.

Parents who wish to split their parental leave between them must give advance notice to their respective places of employment. Parents who work for the same company can share a total of 62 weeks of leave.

Resuming Work

The employee must provide the employer with at least four weeks' written notice before the employee is permitted to:

  • get back to work
  • do not plan to come back to work after their leave ends

If an employee who is on leave fails to return to work the day after their leave ends, regardless of the reason, the employer is not obligated to reinstate them.

In the event of an emergency, employers have the option of granting additional time off without incurring any legal liability.

Paid time off and vacations

Earned annual leave must be used within 12 months of being earned. If this occurs while the worker is on leave, the worker is responsible for:

  • use up any time off that's left over at the end of their trip,
  • inquire about taking the time off at a later date and having it approved by your employer

A separation from service

Once a worker has begun or is eligible for maternity or parental leave, their employer is prohibited from terminating or otherwise reducing their working conditions in any way, unless the company has voluntarily ceased operations. In such a situation, it is possible to dismiss or lay off workers. If the company resumes operations within 50 weeks of the end of the leave, the employer must bring the worker back.

An employer cannot penalize a worker in any way (including firing, layoff, or resignation) due to a woman's pregnancy or the act of giving birth to a child.

Contact the Alberta Human Rights Commission for more details.

If a former worker feels they were let go unfairly, they can file a claim under employment law.

Compensation from the Employment Insurance System

The federal EI program may provide employees with parental and maternity leave.

Be aware that in Alberta, there may be discrepancies between the requirements for receiving Employment Insurance benefits and those for receiving job-protected leave. Contact the Canadian government's Employment Insurance office for more details.

When and where the law applies

Employment Standards Code, Division 7, Part 2: Maternity and Parental Leave Employees who qualify under the law are entitled to unpaid leave and must be returned to the same or a comparable position upon its conclusion.

In the event of a conflict between the information provided here and the Alberta Employment Standards Act, the Act shall govern.

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