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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 13 weeks 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.  

Note: if you return to work for the employer from whom you took the leave, even if it is only part-time, you give up the right to take the rest of your leave.

When can I take my leave?

You can start your leave 17 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.   If 17 weeks has passed and you are still pregnant, you pregnancy leave would be extended until the birth date.

An employer cannot decide when an employee will begin her leave even if the employee is off sick or if her pregnancy limits the type of work she can do.

What if I have a miscarriage or a stillbirth?

If you suffer a miscarriage or a stillbirth within 17 week prior to your due date, you are entitled to up to 17 weeks of pregnancy leave or 6 weeks leave after the date of your miscarriage or stillbirth, whichever is greater.  An employee who has a miscarriage or stillbirth, or whose spouse or same-sex partner has a miscarriage or stillbirth, is not eligible for parental leave.

Parental Leave

How do I qualify for Parental Leave?

You have to have been hired 13 weeks 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, the adopting parent of a child, and a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of the child and who plans on treating the child as his or her own (same sex couples) 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 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave

  • Birth father - up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave

  • Adopting parent - up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave

Parental leave must be started within 52 weeks after the child's birth or when the child first comes into parent care (adoption, hospitalization, etc).

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.

Giving Notice for a Leave

What must I do to get leave?

You must give written notice to your employer at least 2 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 or stating a reason for taking leave prior to your due date.

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

What if I need to change my leave date after giving notice?

You can begin leave earlier than you originally told your employer if you give your employer new written notice at least two weeks before the new, earlier date or change to a later date if you gives your employer written notice at least two weeks before the original notice date.

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

You must give your employer 4 weeks written notice of returning to work if you are returning prior to your 17 weeks allowed leave.  If you are using your entire 17 weeks, no notice is required.  You are not required to present a medical certificate if you wish to return to work before the end of your pregnancy 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.

Employers cannot penalize an employee in any way for taking or being eligible for a pregnancy or parental 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, employees continue to earn credits toward length of employment, length of service, and seniority during periods of leave.

For more information please visit Ontario Pregnancy and Parental Leave Factsheet.

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