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Planning for Maternity and Parental Leave


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All new parents - moms and dads - are entitled to take time off work to care for a new baby. Two kinds of leave are available: maternity leave and parental leave.

Under the B.C. Employment Standards Act, pregnant employees who work outside the home are entitled to up to 17 consecutive weeks of unpaid maternity leave. You may begin this leave up to 13 weeks before the expected birth date. This may be extended by up to six consecutive weeks if you’re unable to return to work for reasons related to the birth. Your employer may ask for a healthcare provider's certificate to support a request for leave or a leave extension.

Employers are also required to provide an unpaid parental leave. Parental leave is 61 weeks for parents who took maternity leave and 62 weeks for fathers or adopting parents. You must start your parental leave within 78 weeks after your child’s birth or placement. If you are the birth mother, you must take parental leave right after your maternity leave is over unless your employer agrees otherwise.

You may also qualify for Employment Insurance benefits during this time. For more information visit the Service Canada website. 

Please note: This is for general information only. It is not a legal document.

For details of provincial rules, call the Employment Standards information line. The number is also listed in the blue pages of your phone book.

Visit the Government of Canada website for more information on federal rules and Employment Insurance for maternity, parental or other leaves.

For information specific to your workplace, talk to your employer.

Your employer must return you to your job or a similar position after you return from your leave. Your benefits, such as medical coverage, will continue, as long as you keep paying your share of the premium cost.

Resources and Links:

Province of BC Employment Standards Branch
Labour Canada: Maternity and Parental Leave
Service Canada: Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

Last Updated: August 10, 2013