What are Your Rights on Parental Leave in Ontario?

Icy Canada Team
Icy Canada TeamFebruary 14, 2022
Updated 2023/09/20 at 11:20 AM
Cropped view of unrecognizable man and his daughter making sweets with biscuit cutters on processing board. Father putting cookies on the baking sheet
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If your family is about to grow, you’ve got a lot on your plate! As you prepare, it’s vital to know your rights if you decide to take parental leave.

It’s not unheard of for an employer to pressure an employee concerning maternity or parental leave, like asking them to start their parental leave early, for example. If your employer does, contact the experienced Toronto employment lawyers at Ertl Lawyers for a free consultation on your rights in the workplace, including statutory leaves.

This guide is about parental leave. Not to be confused with pregnancy (“maternity”) leave, which you can learn more about on the Government of Ontario’s “Pregnancy and parental leave” page

The Differences Between Parental Leave and Maternity Leave

The most obvious difference is that parental leave is available to both parents, but only birth mothers are eligible for pregnancy leave.

The other main distinctions are that pregnancy leave is 17 weeks that can be taken before the baby is born (up to 17 weeks before the due date), and that it must begin no later than when the baby is born.

Parental leave can last as long as 63 weeks (61 for birth mothers who took pregnancy leave) and can begin as late as 78 weeks after a parent takes care, custody, and control of their baby or adopted child.

Other than these distinctions, however, the rights and obligations are fairly similar for an employee on either pregnancy or parental leave.

What are Your Rights on Parental Leave?

The Employment Standards Act provides the minimum requirements for most employers and workers in Ontario. Check the exceptions to these standards here. Federally-regulated industries and employees have similar parental and pregnancy leave rules in the Canada Labour Code.   

Your Job is Protected on Parental Leave

You are entitled to the same job if it still exists, or a comparable one if it does not when you return from parental leave. You are also entitled to the same pay plus any increases you would have earned during the time of your leave.

You also have the right not to face reprisal for taking parental leave or:

  • Planning to take parental leave.
  • Becoming eligible for parental leave.
  • Asking questions about parental leave.

If your employer penalized you in any way for any of the above actions or terminated your position at any time before or during your leave, get the opinion of an employment lawyer on whether your employer violated your rights. 

The Clock Does Not Stop Ticking on Your Length of Service

The amount of time you have been with an employer affects several aspects of your employment. Your time on leave still counts towards the length of your service, which is used to calculate your vacation time and pay and your severance entitlements if your employment is terminated without cause.

However, time on parental leave does not count towards the number of your days of active service. This may affect how those entitlements and benefits are calculated. It also does not count towards time on a probationary period.

Continued Participation in Benefit Plans

Your employer must continue to pay their portion of the premiums for benefit plans unless you inform them in writing that you will not pay your share while on leave. This can include the premiums for:

You also have the right to continued access to benefit plans employees can access on other types of leave. 

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