In the current system, EI benefits are payable for maternity leave for a period starting eight weeks prior to the claimant’s due date and ending 17 weeks after the birth of the child, for a maximum of 15 weeks.
Parental EI benefits are then payable for up to 35 weeks commencing no earlier than the birth or adoption of the child, but can be split between both parents not just the mother.
After December 3rd, there will be the option for some new parents who are regulated federally to elect to have EI parental benefits at the lower rate of 33% of weekly insurable earnings for an additional 28 weeks to a maximum of 63 weeks of parental leave as now allowed by the Canada Labour Code, or opt to instead receive parental leave benefits at the current rate of 55% over the same current 35 week period.
How will this effect workplace policies and practices? Some employers currently offer employees an income top-up to supplement income during parental leave. If you now elect to receive 33% of parental benefits, will employers continue to provide full top-up? This change also has many small businesses worried, as they will now have to find and train replacement workers for longer periods.
Do the new rules apply to me?
The new federal rules for parental leave currently only apply to federal workers, as provincial legislation regarding labour and employment practices have not yet been changed. Here in PEI the Current Employment Standards Act, only gives entitlement to 35 weeks of parental leave. Ontario has already announced it will follow the federal governments lead and make the required changes to their Employment Standards Act, however it is left to be seen if Prince Edward Island will follow suit.
Best practice would be to plan and adjust for upcoming changes by implementing the proper employment policies and procedures. The lawyers at Key Murray Law working in the area of Employment Law would be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the drafting or revision of employment agreements or workplace policies.
Legal information appearing in this article and elsewhere on Key Murray Law’s website is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for or replace any legal or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require legal advice, you should consult directly with one of our lawyers.