In today’s fast-paced world, taking care of family remains a top priority for many. This article aims to guide you through the nuances of paternity leave in Canada, with a focus on the process in Ontario, Canada
Understanding your rights and responsibilities during this crucial time is essential, so let’s delve into the details.
Table of Contents
What is Paternity Leave?
Paternity leave, a fundamental aspect of Canada’s labor laws, is designed to allow working parents time off to care for their newborns or newly adopted children. This essential benefit promotes a work-life balance and supports the well-being of both parents and children.
Both new parents are entitled to take parental leave for a period of up to 61 or 63 weeks, during which they can take unpaid time off from their work.
Eligibility of Paternity Leave in Ontario
To qualify for paternity leave in Canada, certain eligibility criteria must be met.
A new parent, regardless of their employment status (full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract), is eligible for paternity leave under certain conditions. To qualify, the employee must:
- Be employed by a company that falls under the ESA’s (Employment Standard Act) coverage.
- Have completed a minimum of 13 weeks of employment prior to commencing their parental leave.
- It’s important to note that the employee does not need to be actively working during the entire 13-week qualifying period. For instance, they could be on layoff, vacation, sick leave, or pregnancy leave for all or part of this period and still retain their entitlement to parental leave. The ESA (Employment Standard Act) solely requires that the employee has a minimum of 13 weeks of employment with the same employer before they can initiate a parental leave.
The term “parent” encompasses:
- A biological parent.
- An adoptive parent, whether or not the adoption has been legally finalized.
- A person in a committed relationship with a parent of the child, who intends to treat the child as their own. This includes same-sex couples.
Duration of Paternity Leave
Birth mothers who opt for pregnancy leave can take up to 61 weeks of parental leave. In contrast, all other new parents have the option to take up to 63 weeks of parental leave.
Employees have the flexibility to choose a shorter leave duration if they prefer. However, it’s important to note that once an employee initiates their parental leave, they must take it in one continuous period. They are not permitted to use part of the leave, return to work, and then resume parental leave for the remaining portion.
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Parental Leave vs. Maternity Leave
Parental leave should not be confused with maternity leave. While maternity leave is exclusively for biological mothers, parental leave is available to both parents and adoptive parents. Ontario upholds this distinction to ensure fairness.
When a Paternity leave can Begin
In the case of a birth mother who has taken pregnancy leave, paternity leave typically begins immediately after the pregnancy leave concludes. However, there may be situations where the baby is not yet under the employee’s care when the pregnancy leave ends. For instance, if the baby remains in the hospital’s care due to health reasons.
In such instances, the employee has the option to initiate parental leave upon the conclusion of pregnancy leave, or they can choose to return to work and then start parental leave at a later time. If the latter option is chosen, parental leave can commence at any point within 78 weeks of the child’s birth or the date when the child first comes home from the hospital.
For all other parents, paternity leave must begin no later than 78 weeks after either:
- The date of their child’s birth.
- The date when the child first comes under their care, custody, and control.
It’s important to note that the entire parental leave does not need to be taken within the 78-week window; it simply needs to be initiated during this timeframe.
Paternity Leave Benefits and Compensation
During paternity leave, parents in Ontario are entitled to receive financial support through EI benefits. This compensation helps ease the financial burden associated with caring for a child during this crucial period.
Parents of a newborn or recently adopted child have the opportunity to access parental benefits. This includes two distinct options:
- Standard Parental Benefits: Opting for this choice will determine the number of weeks you are eligible for and the weekly benefit amount you’ll receive.
- Extended Parental Benefits: Choosing this option offers a different set of weekly and weekly benefits.
When sharing parental benefits, both parents must select the same option and submit their individual applications. The benefit weeks can be taken concurrently or consecutively, depending on your preference.
While you are not obliged to use the weeks of parental benefits in one continuous stretch, it’s crucial to utilize them within specific time frames that commence either from the week of your child’s birth or the week your child is placed with you for adoption purposes. These time frames are as follows:
- Standard Parental: To be used within 52 weeks (equivalent to 12 months).
- Extended Parental: To be used within 78 weeks (equivalent to 18 months).
|Parental Benefits||Maximum Weeks||Amount|
|Standard Parental Benefits||40 weeks||$650|
|Extended Parental Benefits||69 weeks||$390|
Before applying, it’s advisable to carefully consider whether the standard or extended parental benefits suit your needs better. It’s important to note that once you have received a week of parental benefits or if the other parent has received a payment in cases of shared benefits, you cannot switch between the standard and extended parental benefit options.