Maternity and paternity leave: Splitting into separate periods; not returning to work (Ask an Expert)

Splitting parental leave into separate periods, Employees not returning from maternity or parental leave

Splitting parental leave into separate periods

Question: Can an employee on a parental leave break the leave up? 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/territorial employment/ 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 (or children) 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.

Provincial breakdown

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 or she took the leave must be hospitalized for more than a 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.

Employees not returning from maternity or parental leave

Question: If an employee chooses not to return to work after a maternity or parental leave, is there a certain amount of notice the employee must give to the employer?

Answer: The answer depends on the jurisdiction in which the employee works since issues surrounding maternity and parental leaves are governed by provincial/territorial employment/labour standards laws and the Canada Labour Code for federally regulated employees and employers.

Most jurisdictions do not specify a particular amount of notice relating to terminating employment after a maternity or parental leave. Only Alberta and Ontario legislate a specific time period — four weeks’ written notice.

In jurisdictions where no amount of notice is specified, employees are expected to comply with general employment/labour standards requirements for termination notice.

Legislation in British Columbia, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Saskatchewan and under the Canada Labour Code does not specify an amount of notice that employees must give to employers if they plan to terminate their employment. In the remaining jurisdictions, the notice requirements outlined in the chart below apply to employees.

Jurisdiction

Length of employment

Amount of notice

required

Manitoba

First 30 days of employment

No notice

Less than one year of employment

One week

One year or more of employment

Two weeks

Newfoundland
and Labrador

Less than three months

No notice

Three months to two years

One week

Two years to less than five years

Two weeks

Five years to less than 10 years

Three weeks

10 years to less than 15 years

Four weeks

15 years or more

Six weeks

Nova Scotia

Less than three months

No notice

Three months to less than two years

One week

Two years or more

Two weeks

Prince Edward Island

Less than six months

No notice

Six months to less than five years

One week

Five years or more

Two weeks

Less than six consecutive months

No notice

Six consecutive months to
less than two years

One week

Two years to less than four years

Two weeks

Four years to less than six years

Three weeks

Six years or more

Four weeks


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.

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