Pregnancy, Maternity & Parental Leave
Nobody understands just how precarious job security can feel more than a woman who is pregnant and contemplating her maternity leave. Our laws were written especially to protect you from the time you announce your pregnancy or start showing, through to when you return to work following parental leave.
Canadians enjoy some of the most progressive laws in the world in this regard. Provincial employment laws as well as Federal Employment Insurance Benefits allow birth mothers, the other parent as well as adoptive parents time off with some income. All of this should provide comfort to parents. You should peacefully bond with your newly arrived infant, knowing your job is secure.
Yet reality is different for many
Here’s What The Law Says About Maternity & Parental Leave
You may take time off during your pregnancy if you are medically unable to work. This is true for miscarriages and other pregnancy related illnesses. This also applies to surrogate mothers. Our laws specifically protect you from being unfairly treated simply because you are pregnant. You cannot be demoted or fired. You can request special workplace accommodations if you feel you cannot safely perform your regular duties while carrying a child. Examples include modified duties to allow you to continue to work until you go on leave, temporary flexible hours or time off for valid health reasons and to attend medical appointments.
If your employer makes any of this difficult, recognize that your rights are being violated. Some unscrupulous employers may try to frustrate you into quitting, knowing that you will be going on extended leave. This is specifically against the law and classic grounds for a constructive dismissal case. Contact us before it gets out of hand.
Pregnant women can rest assured that our laws protect them to a far greater degree than other workers. Your employer cannot fire you because you are pregnant and intend on taking maternity leave. This protection begins when you announce your pregnancy or when you start showing.
If you were fired while pregnant and for no tangible reason other than your pregnancy, the legal repercussions are severe. This is as bad as it can get for your employer. When wrongful dismissal cases are intertwined with pregnancy or paternal leave there are many avenues to fight this grievance. Ensure you have the most experienced employment lawyer on your side to fight this battle to your benefit.
If you are a new parent and have not previously taken parental leave, then you are eligible to take up to 63 weeks off from work. If you have previously taken parental leave, then you can take up to 61 weeks off. Once you start your leave, it must be taken all at once. This is unpaid time off from work, unless your employer offers private parental leave benefits.
Pregnancy leave is a separate entitlement from parental leave. Birth mothers as well as surrogate mothers can take pregnancy leave of up to 17 weeks. Expectant parents can opt for 12 or 18 months of combined parental and pregnancy leave. Just like parental leave above, this time off is unpaid unless your employer offers private coverage
This is considered unpaid time off unless your employer offers special benefits for parental and maternity leave. However, you may qualify for Federal Employment Insurance (EI). These benefits also cover you if you are unable to work while you are pregnant. Further to that, EI parental benefits coverage is also available for parents to care for a newly adopted child.
If you are considering pregnancy or parental leave, you should contact your local EI office to establish your specific qualification criteria. While expectant parents do have a choice of taking 12 or 18 months off to spend with their new child, the total EI benefit has limitations. Parents opting to take advantage of the 18 month leave will only receive their 12 month entitlement. The parental leave equivalent will be stretched and paid out over the extra 6 months.
You are entitled to all earned benefits, including vacation, sick leave, seniority, and raises.
As the birth mother, YOU, not your employer, decide when your leave should begin. You can start it as early as 17 weeks before your due date or on the day you give birth. If you also intend to take parental leave, you must do so immediately after your pregnancy leave ends. An exception is made to this rule if your baby requires hospitalization right after birth. In this case, you can return to work after your pregnancy leave; your parental leave can begin when your baby comes home. This must take place within 52 weeks of the birth.
If you are the other parent, your parental leave can begin no later than 52 weeks after the day the child was born or came into the your custody, care and control for the first time.
9. Can my employer fire me during my parental or maternity leave?
Employers can fire their employees for many reasons but not specifically because you are on legal leave for being a parent. You are entitled to your job when you return. If you face a job layoff during or right after your return, contact us to examine the circumstances. Your employer would need to prove that the layoff was for reasons other than your leave, and the courts set this bar very high, indeed.
In our experience, employees returning from maternity leave or an illness are most susceptible to workplace harassment. This is when some employers start comparing you to the person who filled in for you. Perhaps they will decide that you are less-than-productive?
New parents frequently require time off to care for sick infants. And they also fall ill more often from viruses their kids bring home from daycare and school. Your manager may unnecessarily scrutinize you for not being fully productive. When your employer starts looking at you through a productivity lens, you will most likely be subjected to a demotion, an unreasonable workload or underhanded harassment. You may be excluded from team meetings on purpose and actively set up to fail. Employees in this situation expect to be fired at any moment. or they quit unwillingly. This is completely illegal. Consulting with us early in the process will allow us to manage your case properly.
Every case we manage is unique and distinctive to the circumstances of our clients. But we see a common theme in all. Our clients lack knowledge about their employee rights and entitlements.
We level this playing field
Balancing Work and Life
In a world where we remain electronically connected 24/7, the lines between work and private time have become blurry. This has given rise to tensions between employers and labour groups. Employers want highly productive, efficient and flexible workers who can perform tasks from anywhere, anytime, on-demand, full time, part-time and on temporary terms. Labour groups, on the other hand, want predictability along with better employment terms and conditions. How far can employers invade your personal space? This is a question that concerns virtually every employee, and in particular parents, for whom the choice to please the employer becomes untenable.
Fired While Pregnant
Nothing can be more distressing for a woman than getting fired while pregnant. While most women can comfortably work through their pregnancy, they face unique challenges. For the next few months, they must remain healthy as well as productive on the job. It is not uncommon for some to experience nausea and exhaustion early in their pregnancy. These symptoms become particularly stressful for those not ready to announce their pregnancy to their employer. The obvious physical changes that occur as the pregnancy progresses can make it difficult for some women to perform their normal job. And for others, pregnancy related illnesses may require them to take extended time off from work. To cap it all, our laws offer parents generous protected leaves of absence after the baby arrives. All of these cause “inconveniences” to employers and inconsiderate one’s will not play fair, regardless of the law.
Miscarriage & Pregnancy Related Illnesses
The Ontario Human Rights Code protects the disabled from discrimination and harassment at the work. If you become temporarily disabled due to an illness or injury, your employer must offer reasonable accommodation so you can continue working. The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario expanded the definition of disability to include circumstances uniquely faced by pregnant women. For workplace accommodation, miscarriage, stillbirths and abortions are all recognized as pregnancy related illnesses, along with the mental distress that ensues. If you suffer such an illness, our laws now offer you the same protection as any other person who is disabled while employed.
Legal Fees are the main reason why people avoid seeing a lawyer. We can likely alleviate much of that anxiety at the very first meeting. An initial review of your case is usually free. Furthermore, for the majority of cases, our fee is charged as a percentage of the settlement we obtain for you.
We take on a vested interest in seeing your case succeed.
Legal fees should never deter anyone from seeking their entitlements.
Top Employment Lawyers In Toronto
The employment lawyers at Lecker & Associates have helped clients resolve disputes with their employers for over 35 years.
From negotiating fair severance packages, securing disability benefits and offering strategic advice on employment contracts, to litigating egregious human rights and workplace harassment cases, we represent our clients aggressively and with swift efficiency.
Unlike others, our focus is singular – We fiercely represent Ontario employees to defend their rights.
We operate with deep expertise in this field.