Know the scoop on parental leave benefits

By Kimberley Fiume
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 03/30/2001

Over the past year, federal announcements, including budget releases, have heralded increases in Employment Insurance (EI) parental leave benefits from 10 weeks to 35 weeks, effective Jan. 1, 2001. This has given many employees the impression that the increase extends across the country, with a potential for up to one year combined maternity and parental leave. The ensuing misunderstandings leave the human resources department the task of eliminating the complications and confusion that continue to surface.

HR practitioners first need to know that there are two different sets of legislation that address maternity and parental leaves. Provincial employment or labour standards dictate the unpaid time an employer must grant a qualifying employee, while federal legislation governs the payment of EI benefits for the absence.

Most employees are not aware of this distinction.