05 Apr Pregnancy Leave in Ontario: Employee Rights
Pregnancy Leave in Ontario is defined under section 46 of the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) which allows pregnant employees to take unpaid time off work without the chance of employment termination.
An employee who is pregnant has the right to pregnancy leave for up to 17 weeks. The 17 weeks can be cut short; however, the employee cannot break up the time period into several chunks. This means that once the pregnancy leave has commenced, it cannot re-commence once the employee has ended it.
The earliest this term can begin is 17 weeks before the expected due date of the child. If this is the case, the period would end the day of the birth, and the employee would receive no pregnancy leave days afterward. The pregnant employee can take off a maximum of 17 weeks unless there are particular circumstances that say otherwise. The latest the pregnancy leave can begin is the due date of the child.
How does an employee qualify for pregnancy leave?
The employee, whether they are full-time, part-time, permanent or term contract workers, can qualify for pregnancy leave if they meet the following conditions. First, it is required that they are employed by an employer registered under the ESA, second, they have commenced their employment for a greater period of time than 13 weeks. For an employee to have “commenced” their employment, this means that they need to have started the employment process. It is not required that they have to be actively working for 13 weeks to be eligible for pregnancy leave.
What if the employee has a miscarriage or still birth?
If the miscarriage happens before the 17-week period has began, they can no longer qualify for pregnancy leave. If the miscarriage occurs within the 17-week period, they still have the right to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave.
The date in which the pregnancy leave ends in the case of a miscarriage or stillbirth is either when the 17-week period ends or 12 weeks after the miscarriage or stillbirth occurred.
When does the employee notify their employer about their leave?
The employee is required to give the employer two weeks’ notice before their pregnancy leave commences. If the pregnancy leave has to start earlier than expected due to any unforeseeable issues due to the pregnancy, this employee has up to two weeks to give the employee a written notice that their pregnancy leave has begun.
If the employee wants to change the date of their pregnancy leave, they must give the employee two weeks’ notice in a written notice format.
It is important to know that notifying your employer about taking the leave does not mean that you are “applying” for the pregnancy leave. The employee has the right to start the pregnancy leave when they feel it is necessary to do so.
If you have any questions about pregnancy leave or need assistance, please contact KCY at LAW by filling in an online consultation request or contact us by phone at 905-639-0999 to book your consultation today.