Time off for fathers around the birth of a child

When can fathers take parental leave?

Question: What are the standards for allowing time off for fathers around the birth of a child? Is there a minimum amount of time worked to be eligible?

Answer: All Canadian jurisdictions have legislation providing for parental and/or child-care leave. As with the answer to the first question above, it is important to check the legislation in your specific jurisdiction in order to know the exact requirements.

In Saskatchewan, full- or part-time employees who are currently employed, and have been working for at least 20 weeks in the 52 weeks before the day the leave is to begin, can get maternity, adoption or parental leave. In the case of parental leave, an employee must give the employer written notice four weeks before the leave begins and include the day the employee intends to start the leave.

In the case of the employee who is on a maternity or adoption leave and is requesting parental leave, the written application must be submitted at least four weeks before the employee is to return to work. The new estimated date of return to work should be included in the notice.

Unless parental leave is being taken along with maternity leave, it can be taken at any time between 12 weeks before the estimated date of birth or the day the child will come into the employee's care and 52 weeks after the date the child was born or came into the employee's care. The maximum period of parental leave in Saskatchewan is 37 weeks for the parent who did not take maternity or adoption leave. For the parent who has taken maternity leave, parental leave is available to a maximum of 34 unpaid weeks. The minimum qualifying period for maternity and parental leave in Saskatchewan is 20 weeks in the previous 52-week period.

The specific provisions vary somewhat by jurisdiction. In order to ensure compliance with the legislation in force in each jurisdiction, it is important to review the applicable provisions. Typically, employment standards requirements are available online at the appropriate government website. If the requirements are not clear, consultation with local legal counsel might be necessary to be certain of compliance.

Brian Kenny is a partner with MacPherson Leslie and Tyerman LLP in Regina. He can be reached at (306) 347-8421 or [email protected].

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