What is Parental Leave in Ontario?

What is Parental Leave in Ontario?

Parental leave is a 61-to-63-week unpaid leave established for any new parent. Parental leave is different from paternity leave because parental leave covers birth parents, non-birth parents, adoptive parents, or a person legally considered a permanent parent of the child. It does not only apply to the parent who carries the child.

The employee who is eligible to take a parental leave must be an employee covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000 – whether that be a full-time, part-time, fixed term, or permanent employee. The employee must, however, have been employed for at least 13 weeks under their employment contract to be entitled to take this leave.

When can an employee take this leave and for how long?

Mothers who have given birth to a child are eligible to commence their parental leave once their maternity leave ends or at any point within 78 weeks of the child being born. They are entitled to take up to 61 weeks of parental leave in addition to their maternity leave.

For any parent who is not the birth mother, the ESA requires that they begin their leave of absence (at most) 78 weeks after the baby is born or when the baby first comes into the care of the parent. They are entitled to remain on parental leave for a maximum of 63 weeks.

Does the employee need to provide notice?

Yes, generally, the employee must provide at least two weeks written notice to their employer. It is most efficient to include the length of leave the employee is planning to take (including the start and end date), and if not specified, the employer can assume they are taking the full period of leave. If the employee is planning to take the full leave, the employer is entitled to a four weeks’ notice.

It is absolutely acceptable for the employee to change their mind about when they plan to take their leave, as long as they provide the proper notice to their employer.

The employee can change to an earlier start date if they give a two-weeks’ notice and can also change to a later start date if they provide notice 2 weeks before the original start date. The employee can also change their return date, whether it be earlier or later, by providing four weeks’ notice. However, if they plan to extend their leave, the four weeks’ notice must be that many weeks before the original end date.

Is it possible to be paid during this period?

Parental leave is unpaid; however, it is possible that your employer may choose to provide pay. The employee does have the opportunity to apply for employment insurance (EI), and if eligible, could receive compensation.

Specific to parental EI, if the parents apply for standard parental EI benefits which provide payments up to 40 weeks with one parent receiving up to 35 weeks at a 55% benefit rate, payments could be up to $573. The parents could also apply for extended parental EI benefits which would provide payments up to 69 weeks with one parent receiving 61 weeks at a 33% benefit rate, with payments up to $344.

If you are an employee who wishes to take a parental leave and requires guidance, 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.