Welcome to another employment standards podcast from the Ministry of Labour.
The Employment Standards Act gives pregnant employees the right to take an unpaid leave from work.
The act also gives new parents the right to an unpaid leave following the birth of a child, or when a child first comes into their care.
These leaves are called pregnancy leave and parental leave.
Pregnancy leave is available to pregnant employees only.
Parental leave is available to employees who are new parents, including birth parents and adoptive parents.
We have discussed pregnancy leave in a previous podcast.
Today, we are going to give you an overview of parental leave.
Parental leave is a right to take unpaid time off work when a child is born, or first comes into the care of a parent.
A "parent" includes:
• a birth parent;
• an adoptive parent (whether or not the adoption has been legally finalized); and
• a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of the child, and who plans on treating the child as his or her own.
Parental leave is distinct from pregnancy leave.
This means a birth mother is able to take both pregnancy and parental leave.
In addition, the right to a parental leave is independent of the right to pregnancy leave
For example, a birth father could be on parental leave at the same time the birth mother is on either her pregnancy leave or parental leave.
As a new parent you may be entitled to parental leave whether you are a full-time, part-time, permanent or contract employee.
You must work for an employer that is covered by the Employment Standards Act, and you must have been hired at least 13 weeks before you start a parental leave.
Please note that you do not have to actively work during those 13 weeks to be eligible for parental leave.
It is only necessary that you were hired at least 13 weeks before you start your leave.
If you are a birth mother who took pregnancy leave you are entitled to 35 weeks' parental leave.
All other new parents - including birth mothers who did not take a pregnancy leave - are entitled to 37 weeks' parental leave.
You are not required to take a leave if you do not wish to.
You may also choose to take a shorter leave than the 35 or 37 weeks you are entitled to take.
Once you start your leave, you must take it all at once.
You cannot start your parental leave, take some of it, return to work, and then take the rest of the leave later.
If you return to work - even part-time - you give up the right to the rest of your parental leave.
A birth mother who takes pregnancy leave must ordinarily begin a parental leave as soon as the pregnancy leave ends.
However, if the baby has not yet come into her care for the first time when her pregnancy leave ends, she can choose to return to work and commence her parental leave at a later date.
For example, this would be the case if a woman's baby was hospitalized since birth and is still in the hospital's care when her pregnancy leave ends.
In this case, if she chose to return to work when the pregnancy leave ended, she would be able to start the parental leave anytime within 52 weeks of the birth, or within 52 weeks of the date the baby first came home from the hospital.
All other parents must begin their parental leave no later than 52 weeks after the date their baby is born or the date their child first came into their care, custody and control.
Please note that the parental leave does not have to be completed within this 52-week period. It just has to be started.
Your employer does not have to pay wages to you while you are on parental leave.
When you are on leave, you have the right to continue participation in certain benefit plans, and you continue to earn credit for length of employment, length of service, and seniority.
In most cases, you will have the right to return to the job you held prior to going on the leave, or to a comparable job if your old job no longer exists.
The only exception is where an employee loses their job for reasons that are solely and entirely unrelated to the leave.
Upon returning to work, you must be paid at least as much as you were earning before the leave.
And, if the wages for the job went up while you were on leave, or would have gone up if you hadn't been on leave, your employer must pay you the higher wage when you return.
As well, your employer cannot penalize you in any way because you are or you will be eligible to take a parental leave, or because you took or were planning to take a parental leave.
This has been a general overview of rights to parental leave under the Employment Standards Act.
Please note that if you have questions about employment insurance benefits that may be payable to you while you are on a parental leave, you may contact Service Canada's Employment Insurance Automated Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218.
That's Service Canada's Employment Insurance Automated Telephone Information Service at 1-800-206-7218.
There are other specific rules governing parental leave under the Employment Standards Act, and we encourage you to go to our website for more details.
The address is ontario.ca - forward slash - employment standards - one word.
That's ontario.ca - forward slash - employment standards - one word.
Scroll down, and under topics you'll see "Pregnancy and Parental Leave".
That link will take you to the appropriate information.
Or, you may call our Information Centre at 1-800-531-5551.
There, we can provide more information on employment standards in Ontario.
Thank you for listening.