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Nova Scotia

Pregnancy Leave

Can I be fired for being pregnant?

No. It's illegal for your boss to suspend you, fire you or lay you off for being pregnant.

How do I qualify for pregnancy leave?

You have to have been hired 1 year prior to your estimated due date.  Part-time, full-time, permanent and contract employees are all eligible for pregnancy leave.

How much pregnancy leave can I take?

You can take up to 17 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave.  

When can I take my leave?

You can start your leave 16 weeks before your estimated due date but no later than the actual birth date of your child. Leave can end no later than 17 weeks after actual birth and no earlier than 1 week after actual birth.  

If you cannot reasonably perform your work duties, your employer can require you to taken an unpaid leave of absence.

Parental Leave

How do I qualify for Parental Leave?

You have to be expecting a child and have been hired 12 months prior to your estimated due date.  Part-time, full-time, permanent and contract employees are all eligible for pregnancy leave.

The mother or father of a newborn child, and the adopting parents 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 parental leave can I take?

  • Birth mother - up to 35 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning immediately after the end of the pregnancy leave
  • Birth mother who does not take pregnancy leave - up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave
  • Birth father - up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave
  • Adopting parent - up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave

Parental leave must be started within one after the child's birth or when the child first comes into parent care.

What if my child is hospitalized?

If your child is hospitalized for more than week or is going to be hospitalized for more than a week, you may return to work and defer the remainder of your leave until the child returns home.

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

Each parent may take one leave (52 weeks) as stated above. Parents of multiples do not get additional leave time.

Giving Notice for a Leave

What must I do to get leave?

You must give written notice to your employer at least 4 weeks before you want your leave to start. For pregnancy leave, your employer can request you provide a medical certificate confirming your pregnancy and stating the expected due date or stating a reason for taking leave prior to your due date. In the case of adoption, your employer can request a letter from an official in the Department of Community Services.

Sometimes an employee has to stop working earlier than expected because of complications caused by the pregnancy. In that case, the employee has to give notice that is “reasonably practical” after she stops working to give the employer written notice of the day the pregnancy leave began or will begin.

What if I want to go back to work at the end of my leave?

You must give written notice to your employer at least 4 weeks before you plan to end your leave.

Returning to Work

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?

Your employer has to let you know that you can keep up your benefit plans if you want to, but you have to keep them up at your own expense.

Will I continue to accumulate seniority during my leave?

Yes, employees continue to earn credits toward length of employment, length of service, and seniority during periods of leave.

For more information please see the Nova Scotia Labour Code.

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