Maternity & Parental Leave

 I am pregnant. I have worked for my employer for two years. Will I be entitled to maternity leave?

You are entitled to maternity leave without pay if you have worked for your employer for at least 52 consecutive weeks.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

I have only worked for my employer for six months. Am I allowed to take maternity leave?

You are not entitled to maternity leave under the Employment Standards laws, but you have rights under human rights laws. Your employer must accommodate your pregnancy and childbirth to the point where it becomes an undue hardship. An undue hardship would be where there is serious financial or other disruption to the business. Your employer must also allow you access to sick leave benefits if they are provided and adjust job duties to accommodate your pregnancy if necessary.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

How much maternity leave does the Employment Standards Code provide?

Leave is divided into maternity leave and parental leave.

Maternity leave for a woman is 15 weeks. The time can start any time during the 12 weeks immediately before the estimated due date of delivery. Six weeks of the 15 weeks maternity leave must be taken immediately after the baby is born, unless you and your employer agree to a shorter time. If you want to take less time off than six weeks after the baby is born, you must provide your employer with a certificate from your doctor to confirm that returning early to work will not endanger your health.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

What is parental leave?

Parental leave allows for leave to be taken by either a mother or a father once maternity leave has ended. It also allows for leave to be taken by either parent following adoption.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Can both a mother and father take parental leave?

They can both take parental leave, but the period of 37 weeks must be shared.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

How much parental leave does the Employment Standards Code provide?

A mother who has had maternity leave is entitled to 37 consecutive weeks of parental leave. The parental leave must follow immediately after the maternity leave. This means that in total a birth mother can take 52 weeks of unpaid leave between her maternity and parental leave entitlements.

A father can take 37 weeks of parental leave, if he has been employed by his employer for at least 52 consecutive weeks. The parental leave can be taken any time within 37 weeks of the birth.

An adoptive parent, who has been employed by the employer for 52 consecutive weeks, can take 37 weeks of parental leave within 52 weeks of the child being placed with them for adoption. Adoptive parents can take parental leave for any child under the age of 18.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

My husband and I work at the same company. Can we both take parental leave?

It is possible, but your employer can refuse to allow you to take parental leave at the same time.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

I would like to return to work as soon as possible after the birth. Do I have to wait six weeks?

If you want to take less time off than six weeks after the baby is born, you must provide your employer with a certificate from your doctor to confirm that returning early to work will not endanger your health. Both you and your employer must agree that you can return to work early.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Will I receive wages when I am on maternity leave or parental leave?

There is no legal requirement to be paid during maternity and parental leave. You might be eligible for Employment Insurance while on maternity or parental leave. You might also be eligible for illness benefits from a disability plan for health leave reasons during pregnancy.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Is there anything I have to do to let my employer know about maternity leave or parental leave?

Yes. You must give the amount of notice required by the law.

You must give your employer at least six weeks written notice of the day you are going to start maternity leave. Your employer can also ask for a medical certificate confirming the estimated due date. If for some reason you do not give written notice of maternity leave, you are still entitled to the leave if you send your employer a medical certificate confirming that you cannot work and giving the due date. This notice must be sent within two weeks of you having stopped working.

You must also give your employer at least six weeks written notice of the day you are going to start parental leave. If there is something about the medical condition of the baby or mother that makes it impossible to give six weeks notice, or it was not foreseen that a child would be placed with adoptive parents, written notice to an employer must then be given as soon as possible after parental leave has started.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Do I have to let my employer know when I am returning to work?

Yes. For both maternity leave and parental leave, you must give your employer at least four weeks written notice of the date you intend to go back to work. If you are taking the full period of parental leave, or your employer has specified a date for you to return, you must still give written notice of your intention to return to work at least four weeks before the leave ends.

If you do not provide written notice, you will not be entitled to return to work unless unforeseeable or unpreventable circumstances prevented you from sending the notice.
If you do not return to work on the date stated in the notice, you will not be entitled to return to work unless your return was prevented by unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Will I get my same job back when I return from maternity or parental leave?

Not necessarily. Your employer is obliged to reinstate you in the same or a comparable position with wages and benefits equal to those you received when you started your leave. An employer cannot terminate you for taking maternity or parental leave unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business while you are on leave. If, during your leave, the business was discontinued or suspended, you will have priority to get a job if the business starts up within 12 months after the end of your leave.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

I will be starting my maternity leave about halfway through the year. I have worked for the same employer for many years. I have three weeks of holidays per year and my employer is now telling me that he will pro rate my holidays for this year as I will not be working for the full year. Can my employer do this?

Yes, because during the time you are on maternity leave and not working, you will not be accruing vacation time.

In addition, the Employment Standards Code does not require an employer to make any payments to the employee, or pay for any benefits, during maternity or parental leave. However, where an employer has benefit plans such as sick leave for employees, there may be obligations that arise under human rights legislation.

For more information, contact the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission at (780) 427-7661 in Edmonton or (403) 297-6571 in Calgary. To call toll-free from other Alberta locations, first dial 310-0000. You can also visit the Commission’s website. There you will find the interpretive bulletins Rights and Responsibilities Related to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Adoption and Duty to Accommodate.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

Last week, my wife told her employer that she was pregnant. This week, she got laid off.

She was told because of cut backs – but this seems suspicious to me. Is there anything we can do?

The Employment Standards Code says that an employer cannot terminate an employee who is on maternity or parental leave, unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business. Your wife may have a complaint under human rights legislation although she will probably have to provide some evidence that the lay-off is connected to her pregnancy.

For more information, contact the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission at (780) 427-7661 in Edmonton or (403) 297-6571 in Calgary. To call toll-free from other Alberta locations, first dial 310-0000. You can also visit the Commission’s website (see link below). There you will find the interpretive bulletins Rights and Responsibilities Related to Pregnancy, Childbirth and Adoption and Duty to Accommodate.

Last Reviewed: July 2016

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