Maternity Leave and Parental Leave

Under Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code (LSC), employees have the right to certain job-protected leaves of absence. The Code ensures employees can take time off work for numerous reasons and return to their job without concern. This includes long-term leaves of absence such as maternity leave and parental leave.

Employer Obligations for Maternity Leave and Parental Leave

Employers are responsible for providing time off for maternity leave or parental leave as set out in the LSC.

Pregnancy or Maternity Leave

Pregnancy leave is an unpaid leave for pregnant employees. It can last up to 16 weeks. An employer can require that an employee take an unpaid leave of absence if the pregnancy interferes with the employee’s work. There are times when the Human Rights Act or the employee’s contract prevents this.

Parental Leave

Parental leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave for birth and adoptive parents to take up to 61 weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child. Employees who qualify for parental leave include:

  • Birth mothers (immediately following maternity leave)
  • The other parent
  • Adoptive parents
  • Both parents shared between them

For employees who also take pregnancy leave, they can take a total of 77 weeks of combined pregnancy (16 weeks) and parental (61 weeks) leave.

Employees do not need a certain length of service to qualify for pregnancy and parental leaves. For example, an employee could take parental leave shortly after starting their employment.

Notice Requirement

Your employee must provide written notice at least 4 weeks before taking maternity or parental leave. The employee must also inform their employer if they plan to return early and the planned date of return to work.

If the employee cannot give 4 weeks’ notice, then they must give as much notice as possible. Pregnancy leave can begin not sooner than 16 weeks before the expected date of delivery, and not later than the date of delivery.

An employer can ask for proof of entitlement for pregnancy or parental leave. This can include a certificate from a doctor or adoption worker.

What are your employer obligations for maternity leave and parental leave? 

If you’re unsure about your obligations to provide maternity leave, parental leave, or other leaves of absences, call Employer Line. You can reach our HR experts for free employer advice at 1 (888) 219-8767.