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Maternity Leave

British Columbia

Pregnancy Leave

How do I qualify?

If you're working, you qualify for pregnancy leave. It doesn't matter how long you've worked for the same employer.

How much leave can I take?

You can take up to 17 weeks.  You may extend your leave by up to six weeks if you're unable to return to work for health reasons.

When can I take my leave?

You can start your leave 11 weeks before your estimated due date but no later than the actual birth date of your child. You have to stay on leave until at least six weeks after your baby is born, unless you ask for a shorter period. You need to request this in writing at least one week before you want to return to work. The employer can insist on a medical certificate stating that you're able to work. Leave can end no later than 17 weeks after actual birth.

What must I do to get leave?

You must give written notice to your employer at least four weeks before you want your leave to start. Your notice should include the start and finish date of your leave. Your employer can also make you provide a medical certificate giving the expected due date.

Note: You don't lose your right to maternity leave if you fail to give written notice, as long as the employer acknowledges receipt of a verbal notice.

If you don't make the request until after your baby is born or after your pregnancy ends, you can get up to 6 consecutive weeks of leave beginning the date of birth.

What if I have a miscarriage or an abortion?

If your pregnancy is terminated for whatever reason, you are entitled to 6 weeks unpaid leave after the date your pregnancy terminated.  You may request an additional 6 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave if you are unable to return to work due to health reasons.

What if I am a surrogate mother?

Surrogate mothers are entitled to pregnancy leave but not parental leave.

Can I be fired for getting pregnant?

No. It's illegal for your boss to suspend you, fire you or lay you off for being pregnant. Find what you can do if one of these things happens to you.

Parental Leave

How do I qualify for Parental Leave?

If you're working, you qualify for parental leave. It doesn't matter how long you've worked for the same employer. Mother or father of a newborn child, or the adopting parent of a child are eligible to apply for parental leave. One period of parental leave is available for each parent. Both parents are entitled to take the full leave allowed under this section.

How much leave can I take?

  • Birth mother - up to 35 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning immediately after the end of the Pregnacy Leave unless the employer and employee agree otherwise.
  • Birth mother who does not take pregnancy leave - up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning within 52 weeks after the child's birth.
  • Birth father - up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning within 52 weeks after the child's birth.
  • Adopting parent - up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning within 52 weeks after the child's birth.

If the child has a physical, psychological or emotional condition requiring an additional period of parental care, the employee is entitled to up to an additional 5 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave, beginning immediately after the end of the Parental Leave.

How much leave can I take if I have twins, triplets or more children at the same time?

Each parent may take one leave (35-37 weeks) as stated above.  Parents of multiples do not get additional leave time.

How much leave can I take if I am a foster parent?

No parental leave is available to foster parents.  However, if a parent adopts a foster child, the entitlement to parental leave begins on the date the adoption becomes effective.

What job will I come back to?

You'll go back to your previous job or a similar job with the at least the same wages and benefits. You're also entitled to any wage and benefit increases that took effect while you were on leave.

Can I continue to participate in benefit plans, such as disability, dental, pension or medical plans?

Yes, as long as you pay your share of the cost of these plans.

Will I continue to accumulate seniority during my leave?

Yes, for vacation and termination entitlements, and pension, medical or other benefit plans.

Can I get sick leave or short-term disability benefits while on leave?

Employers who provide these benefits must ensure that pregnant workers get them if they have a health-related absence during maternity leave or because of their pregnancy. As part of health-related leave (which is assessed by a doctor), pregnant employees have the right to these benefits before, during or after the delivery, provided they have the required sick leave credits. Pregnant employees who don't work full-time and are covered by these plans can also have access to them.

For more information please visit Employment Standards Pregnancy Leave and Employment Standards Parental Leave.

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