I’m going to be a parent. What are my rights as a worker?

If you’re going to have a baby or adopt a child, Ontario law says that you can take time off work without losing your job. This is called taking a leave.

For information about pregnancy leave, which is for women who are pregnant or who have just given birth, see I’m pregnant. What are my rights as a worker? Some people call this maternity leave.

Parental leave is for new birth parents and adopting parents.

Any new parent who has worked at least 13 weeks for their employer can take parental leave.

This includes all new parents, not just women who have given birth. It also includes anyone who is:

  • in what the law calls a “relationship of some permanence” with a parent of the child, and
  • going to treat the child as their own.

Length of parental leave

A birth mother can take up to 61 weeks of parental leave. She can also get 17 weeks of pregnancy leave. So she can get up to 78 weeks of leave.

All other parents can take 63 weeks of parental leave.

Each parent can take a full parental leave, either at the same time as the other parent or at different times.

Getting paid during parental leave

Ontario’s does not say that your employer has to pay you during parental leave. But if you’ve worked enough hours to qualify for Employment Insurance (EI), you may be able to get EI benefits for some of the time you’re on leave.

When parental leave begins

Usually, a mother who takes pregnancy leave must begin her parental leave as soon as her pregnancy leave ends.

Sometimes there are reasons why a baby has not yet come into the mother’s care and control by the time the pregnancy leave ends.

For example, the baby may need to stay in the hospital past the end of the pregnancy leave.

If this happens, the mother can either:

  • start her parental leave when her pregnancy leave ends, or
  • wait and start her parental leave later.

If she chooses to start her parental leave later, she has the right to return to work between the end of her pregnancy leave and the start of her parental leave.

But she must start her parental leave within 78 weeks after the birth date or the date when the child comes home from the hospital.

Other parents can start their parental leave any time within 78 weeks after the birth date or the date when the child first comes into their custody and care.

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