Balancing Work and Family: Maternity and Paternity Leave in St. Catharines

Employment Attorney

Are you welcoming a new addition to your family? Congratulations!

Having a baby is a special time that you should savour to the fullest. That’s why Ontario has such strong protections for both parents so that they are able to care for their newborn (or adopted) child.

This blog will serve as an introduction to maternity and paternity leave in Ontario. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our employment lawyers in St. Catharines.

Learn About Pregnancy and Parental Leave from Employment Lawyers in St. Catharines

What is Parental Leave?

Ontario describes the time away from work that parents are entitled to take during and after the birth of their child as pregnancy leave and parental leave. Under the Employment Standards Act, both parents are entitled to take parental leave.

New parents can take leave whether they are full-time, part-time, or contractual employees. That said, you have to be employed for at least 13 weeks prior to starting parental leave before you can claim it.

New parents must start their parental leave more than 78 weeks after the birth of the baby or the date their baby first came into their care.

Explaining Pregnancy Leave

Only the birth mother can claim pregnancy leave in Ontario. A pregnant employee can begin her leave any time between 17 weeks before the due date and the day of birth itself. Making the most of your pregnancy and parental leave can be complex, and an employment attorney can advise you on how to do so.

How Long Are Pregnancy and Parental Leave?

The Employment Standards Act gives birth mothers who take pregnancy leave up to 61 weeks of parental leave. Your employer’s policies may allow longer time off than that, but 61 weeks is the ESA minimum, which all eligible employees are entitled to. However, parental leave can be 63 weeks long if the birth mother does not take any pregnancy leave.

If you don’t wish to take leave for the entire period, you can always ask for a shorter leave. That said, parental leave cannot be divided; this means an individual cannot take a portion of their parental leave, return to work, and then take the remaining portion of parental leave at a later time. If you are unsure of the best way to structure parental leave between yourself and your partner, speak to one of our labour lawyers or seek out an employment lawyer near you.

Giving Notice for Parental Leave

You are required to give your employer at least two weeks of written notice that you plan on taking parental leave. Again, if you’re uncertain of the process for preparing a written notice, an employment attorney is able to provide proper guidance.

Protect Your Rights with Employment Lawyers in St. Catharines

If you are facing difficulties taking leave, such as employer pushback about its duration, threats of dismissal as a cause of parental leave, or other issues, it’s vital you speak to employment lawyers near you to determine next steps and your legal rights.

At Lancaster Chown & Welch LLP, we help Ontarians like you assert your rights. Book a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a labour lawyer to discuss your matter worry-free. We provide considered advice and sensitive representation.