Maternity and parental leave | fact sheet

Maternity and parental leave | fact sheet

Eligible employees can take unpaid, job-protected maternity and/or parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child.

Basic rules

  • eligible employees can take time off work without pay for maternity or parental leave without risk of losing their job
  • employers must grant maternity or parental leave to eligible employees and give them their same, or equivalent, job back when they return to work
  • employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement
  • employees on maternity or parental leave are considered to be continuously employed, for the purposes of calculating years of service

Employee eligibility

Employees are eligible for maternity or parental leave if they’ve worked at least 52 consecutive weeks with the same employer.

If both parents work for the same employer, the employer isn’t required to grant leave to both employees at the same time.

Employees with less than 52 weeks of employment may still be granted leave. However, their employers aren’t required, under employment standards legislation, to grant them leave or reinstate them after their leave ends.

More details

Show Answer Length of leave

Maternity leave

Birth mothers can take up to 15 consecutive weeks of unpaid maternity leave.

Leave can start any time within 12 weeks of the estimated due date and no later than the date of birth.

If pregnancy interferes with the employee’s job performance during the 12 weeks before their due date, employers can require the employee start maternity leave earlier, by notifying them in writing.

Birth mothers must take at least 6 weeks after birth for health reasons, unless:

  • the employer agrees to an early return to duties, and
  • the employee provides a medical certificate stating the return will not endanger her health

Parental leave

Birth and adoptive parents can take up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid parental leave.

Parental leave can be taken by:

  • the birth mother, immediately following maternity leave,
  • the other parent, or
  • both parents, shared between them.

    Leave can start any time after the birth or adoption of a child, but must be completed within 52 weeks of the date the baby is born or placed with the parents.

Show Answer Giving notice

Starting leave

Employees must give employers written notice at least 6 weeks before starting maternity or parental leave. Employees aren’t required to specify a return date at that time, but may wish to do so.

If they fail to give notice for medical reasons or a situation related to the birth or adoption, parents are still eligible for leave. In this case:

  • Maternity leave: provide written notice and a medical certificate to the employer within 2 weeks of mother’s last day at work, or as soon as possible
  • Parental leave: provide written notice to the employer as soon as possible

A birth mother on maternity leave isn’t required to give her employer notice before taking parental leave, unless she originally arranged to only take 15 weeks of maternity leave.

Parents who intend to share parental leave must advise their respective employers of their intention to do so.

Medical certificate

Employers can require employees to submit a medical certificate confirming pregnancy and estimated delivery date.

Ending leave

Employees must give their employers written notice at least 4 weeks before they:

  • return to work
  • change their return date
  • don’t return to work after their leave ends

Employers aren’t required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work the day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.

Extending leave

The Code doesn’t cover leave extension. If unexpected circumstances occur, employers can approve an extension, but aren’t obligated to do so.

While the Code does not require an employer to approve extension of the leave, employers should be mindful of their obligations under Human Rights legislation as well.

Show Answer Vacations and termination

Vacation days and pay

Employees don’t earn vacation days or pay while on maternity or parental leave.

Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:

  • take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or
  • get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date.

Termination of employment

Employees can’t be terminated or laid off while on maternity or parental leave unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business. In this case, the employer must reinstate the employee if the business starts up again within 12 months after their leave ends.

Employers can’t discriminate, lay off or terminate an employee, or require them to resign, because of pregnancy or childbirth.

For more information, contact Alberta Human Rights Commission

Show Answer Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

Employees may be eligible for maternity or parental benefits under the federal EI program. For more information, contact Government of Canada.

How the law applies

Part 2, Division 7 of the Employment Standards Code (Code) sets out the rules for maternity and parental leave. The legislation entitles eligible employees to a period of leave without pay, at the end of which they must be reinstated in their same, or an equivalent, job.

Disclaimer: In the event of any discrepancy between this information and Alberta Employment Standards legislation, the legislation is considered correct.

Modified: 2018-01-02
PID: 1473