Pregnancy Leave and Parental Leave

Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ESA) states the requirements for maternity leave, using the terms “pregnancy leave” and “parental leave”. New and expecting parents have the right to take unpaid time off work and to return to the same job once their leave of absence is over.

Please note: It is not a legal requirement that you pay your employees while they are on pregnancy leave. The Government of Canada provides employment insurance benefits to those who are eligible.

Bill 148: Pregnancy Leave and Parental Leave

Pregnancy and parental leave provide time off work, as follows:

  • Pregnancy Leave: for eligible employees in respect to pregnancy, childbirth, post-childbirth recuperation, adoption and childcare.
  • Parental Leave: for male or female employees for the purpose of caring for their newborn or adopted child.

Pregnancy Leave

Also known as maternity leave, pregnancy leave allows pregnant employees up to 17 weeks of unpaid time off work. In some circumstances, the length of absence may be extended. This type of leave is an employee right that is applicable to all types of employees, including full-time, part-time, casual, permanent, and contract. An employee must have started her employment at least 13 weeks before her due date in order to be eligible for maternity leave.

Parental Leave

As of December 3rd, 2017, Ontario has increased the length of parental leave. A birth mother can take both pregnancy and parental leave. A birth mother who takes both leaves is entitled to 61 weeks leave. Employees who do not take pregnancy leave are entitled to 63 weeks off. Both types of absences are unpaid.

Bill 148 also increased stillbirth or miscarriage leave to 12 weeks, effective January 1st, 2018.

Need advice on employees’ pregnancy leave or parental leave?

If you’re unsure about your obligations as an employer, call our free helpline to speak with an HR specialist. We’re here to help your business make the arrangements for pregnancy or parental leaves of absence. Call Employer Line for support at: 1-833-247-3650.