Dedicated Paternity Leave? The Feds Are Considering It

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Labour Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk have indicated that upcoming changes will be made to the existing parental leave rules which will contain provisions directed exclusively to fathers. The Prime Minister has noticed that it is difficult to shrink the gender gap in the workplace when the cost of being a parent is still more expensive for women than men. Many countries now offer some form of paternity leave.

Quebec is currently the only province to offer dedicated leave to new biological fathers who are allowed to take five weeks of paid leave under the provincial regime while receiving 70 per cent of their salary. That is in addition to the 18 weeks of leave available to new biological mothers and 32 weeks of joint parental leave.

Under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 in Ontario, biological mothers are permitted to take 17 weeks of pregnancy leave and 35 weeks of parental leave. Birth mothers who do not take pregnancy leave and all other new parents are entitled to take up to 37 weeks of parental leave. Employers are not required to pay wages to someone who is on parental or pregnancy leave. An employer cannot penalize an employee in any way for taking a pregnancy or parental leave. In the majority of cases, an employee who is entitled to return to the job they had before going on parental or pregnancy leave, or if that job no longer exists, they are entitled to a comparable job earning the same rate of pay.

The right to take time off work is different and separate from the rules regarding payment of maternity and parental benefits under the federal Employment Insurance Act and the proposed federal changes to parental leave would not increase the benefits available o new parents.

To find out more about parental leave, contact employment lawyer Peter McSherry online or at 519-821-5465.