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Parental Leave Extended and Updated Early

By September 26, 2018October 3rd, 2019Employment Law

The Federal Government has just announced that their planned extension of parental leave will come into effect early – in March 2019.

The federal minister responsible for parental leave announced today that a new parental leave benefit of up to five additional weeks of time off from work will be available as of March 2019 — three months earlier than initially planned.

The extension is not new, as it was announced in the 2018 federal budget in the spring.  Specifically, the update will provide an additional five weeks of Employment Insurance parental benefits when a parents (being mother, father, adoptive parents and same-sex parents) agree to share some of their benefits.

The new change comes into place for parents with children born or placed for adoption on or after March 17, 2019.

Currently, Canadian parents can share 35 weeks of paid leave, and it can be divided amongst the couple.  But with the new rules coming into effect in March, parents are able to share up to 40 weeks of paid leave from work (as long as the second parent claims at least five weeks of that time).

The federal Families Minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, said today:

“This new benefit supports a more equal distribution of home and work responsibilities by providing an additional five weeks of EI parental benefits — when both parents share parental leave — this helps parents share more equally both the work and the joy associated with raising children.”

There’s a catch however:  the extra five weeks are a “use it or lose it” benefit.  It can only be accessed if both parents agree to share the parental leave top-up. So, one parent can only take a maximum of 35 weeks, and the other parent may take the remainder of the 40 total weeks if the other parent so chooses.

The federal Status of Women Minister, Maryam Monsef, said today, “[Parents will] have more time together with their newborns not only to share the responsibility but the joy. … When it comes to gender equality — when more and more parents take this leave norms start to shift, norms start to shift in our workplaces. Employers start to recognize women and men can take this leave, and it will reduce the unconscious biases that can sometimes hold women and businesses back.”

Let us know if you want to talk about any of your employees taking a parental leave – we are here for you!

DMC