Maternity Leave and Parental Leave
Under British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act, employees are entitled to certain leaves of absence, including maternity leave and parental leave. The Act ensures that employees receive time off to focus on their new responsibilities as parents. These leaves of absence are job-protected, allowing them to take time off without the fear of losing their job upon returning to the workplace.
As of May 17, 2018, British Columbia’s updates to the Employment Standards Act under Bill 6, the Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2018 are in effect. This involves new standards for maternity leave and parental leave.
Employer Responsibilities for Maternity Leave and Parental Leave
As an employer, it is your legal duty to provide time off for maternity leave and/or parental leave. Both are unpaid, job-protected leaves of absences.
Maternity leave, also known as pregnancy leave, gives birth mothers the right to take up to 17 consecutive weeks of time off. Pregnant employees may begin maternity leave up to 13 weeks ahead of their expected due date. If your employee starts maternity leave after the child’s birth, then the 17 weeks of time off will begin on the date of the birth.
The ESA also allows leave in the event that a pregnancy is terminated. If you have questions on this matter and how it relates to maternity leave, ask Employer Line’s HR experts for advice.
Parental leave allows employees a leave of absence after the birth of a child. The ESA defines two types of parental leaves.
- Parental leave for new mothers: a birth mother is entitled to 61 consecutive weeks of leave when it is taken immediately after maternity leave.
- Parental leave for other parents: a birth mother who does not take pregnancy leave and all other parents (i.e. adoptive parents), have the right to take up to 62 consecutive weeks of leave. This entitlement must begin within 78 weeks of the birth or adoptive placement of a child.
Requesting Maternity Leave and Parental Leave
Your employee must provide a written request for maternity or parental leave at least four weeks prior to the proposed start date. While failure to give written notice does not affect your employee’s right to take maternity leave or parental leave, it is a best practice to outline this notice requirement in your workplace documentation.
Do you have questions about employee eligibility for leave?
If you’re unsure about your obligations as an employer in providing maternity leave, parental leave or any other leaves of absence, ask our team of HR experts. Call Employer Line today: 1(833) 200-5103.