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.
  • Employers have a legal obligation to reinstate workers who take maternity or parental leave to the same or a comparable position.
  • In the absence of a specific provision in an employment contract or a collective bargaining agreement, employers are under no 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.

Period of absence

Paid time off for expecting mothers

Expectant mothers are eligible for up to 16 weeks of unpaid leave. As a result of the waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits, the total number of weeks of leave is greater than the benefit duration by one week. 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.

An 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 their work during that time.

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

Up to 62 weeks of unpaid parental leave are available to birth and adoptive parents. 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. Prior to taking vacation, workers should be aware of this.

Those who qualify for parental leave are those who:

  • immediately after returning from maternity leave, the biological mother,
  • mother or father,
  • 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. Nurse practitioners and physicians are both qualified to issue medical clearances.

Leaving on a trip

When taking maternity or parental leave, workers are required to provide their employers with at least six weeks' advance written notice. 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 the birth mother had planned to take less than 16 weeks of maternity leave, she does not need to notify her employer that she will 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

For employees to be able 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

Time off accrued for the year prior to a leave of absence is nontransferable and must be used within a year. If this occurs during the employee's leave, the employee 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 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, taking a job-protected leave of absence may have different eligibility requirements than receiving Employment Insurance benefits. 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 reinstated to the same or a comparable position upon its conclusion.

To clarify, the employment standards law in Alberta takes precedence over this information in the event of a conflict.

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