Can an employee break up parental leave? (Toughest HR Question)

It all depends on where exactly the worker resides and who her employer might be
By Annie Chong
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 05/06/2013

Question: Can an employee on parental leave break up the leave? One of our employees is requesting to take his parental leave in two segments. Is this allowed?

Answer: The answer depends on the jurisdiction in which the employee works since parental leave is covered under provincial or territorial employment and labour standards and the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employees and employers.

Canada Labour Code: Employees on parental leave may interrupt the leave in order to take other leaves allowed under the code, including the following: compassionate care leave; the leave allowed to employees whose child has disappeared or died as a result of a suspected crime; sick leave; work-related illness or injury leave; or reservist leave (excluding annual training).

Employees must inform their employer in writing of the interruption before it begins or as soon as possible after interrupting it. As soon as the interruption ends, the parental leave resumes.

Employees are required to inform their employer in writing of the day they return to their parental leave. They must do so before that day or as soon as possible after resuming it.

It’s important to note amendments to the Canada Labour Code that are not yet in force will allow eligible employees to take up to 37 weeks off work if their child is critically ill.

It is expected the amendments will come into effect in June 2013. Once the amendments are in force, the interruption referred to in the previous paragraph will also apply to employees taking such a leave of absence.

Regional differences

Alberta: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

British Columbia: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Manitoba: Parental leave must be taken in one continuous period.

New Brunswick: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Northwest Territories: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Nova Scotia: An employee may break parental leave into two separate periods if the child for whom he took the leave must be hospitalized for more than one week. Employees are only allowed to do this once for the same parental leave.

Nunavut: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Ontario: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Prince Edward Island: Parental leave must be taken in one continuous period.

Quebec: The act respecting labour standards allows employees to work part-time or intermittently while on parental leave, as long as the employer agrees to this arrangement. The total amount of parental leave must not be more than the 52 weeks allowed under the act and the leave must end no more than 70 weeks after the child was born or came into the employee’s care.

Saskatchewan: Parental leave must be taken in consecutive weeks.

Yukon: The Employment Standards Act does not address this issue.

Annie Chong is manager of the payroll consulting group at Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business, which publishes the Canadian Payroll Manual and operates the Carswell Payroll Hotline. She can be reached at annie.chong@thomsonreuters.com or (416) 298-5085. This article was originally published in Canadian Payroll Reporter. For more information, visit www.payroll-reporter.com.

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