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Maternity Leave


Maternity 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 much maternity leave can I take?

You can take up to 18 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave.  The employer may agree to a longer maternity leave if the employee requests it.

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 maternity leave after the 16th week preceding the expected date of delivery.   Leave will end no later than 18 weeks after the birth of your child.  If the leave begins at the time of delivery, the week of delivery is not included in the calculation. 

From the 6th week before delivery, the employer may require in writing, a medical certificate stating that the employee is fit to work. If the employee does not provide the certificate within 8 days of request, the employer may require the employee to take maternity leave.

What if I am having complications and need to be away from work prior to the birth of my child?

An employee is entitled to a special maternity leave without pay, when there is a risk of termination of her pregnancy or a danger for the health of the mother or unborn child caused by the pregnancy. The employee must provide a medical certificate specifying the danger and indicating the length of the leave and the expected date of delivery. In such a case, the regular maternity leave begins 4 weeks before the expected date of delivery.

What if I have a miscarriage or a stillbirth?

When a termination of pregnancy occurs before the start of the 20th week preceding the expected date of delivery, the leave is for a maximum duration of 3 weeks, except where a medical certificate states the need for an extended leave of absence.

If termination of a pregnancy occurs from the 20th week preceding expected date or delivery or later, you are entitled to a maternity leave without pay of no more than 18 continuous weeks from the week of the event. The employee shall notify her employer as soon as possible and provide him with a written notice accompanied with a medical certificate indicating the expected date of return to work.

Parental Leave

How much parental leave can I take?

  • Birth mother - up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave beginning immediately after the end of the maternity leave.
  • Birth father - up to 5 consecutive weeks of unpaid paternity leave and 52 weeks parental leave.  Paternity leave cannot be transferred to the mother or shared with her.
  • Adopting parent - up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave

Paternity leave may start no earlier than the week of the birth of the child and end no later than 52 weeks after. 

Parental leave may start no earlier than the week of the birth of the child or when custody of the child is taken if adopting and end no later than 70 weeks after. 

Each parent of a child is entitled to parental leave.

Giving Notice for a Leave

What must I do to get leave?

You must give written notice including a medical certificate to your employer at least 3 weeks before leaving stating the date when you are going on maternity leave including your return to work date. The time period may be shorter if health concerns cause you to leave work sooner.  A written report signed by a mid-wife can replace the medical certificate.

In case of premature delivery, you must give your employer a written notice, with a medical certificate attesting to the event, informing him/her of the event that has occurred and of the expected date of her return to work as soon as possible.

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 give your employer written notice at least two weeks before the original notice date.

Can I work part-time or casually while on leave?

The employee may resume work on a part-time or intermittent basis during parental leave if his employer gives his consent.

How much notice do I need to give my employer before I return to work?

You must give your employer 3 weeks written notice prior to returning to work.

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 and vacation during my leave?

Yes, employees continue to earn credits toward length of employment, length of service, vacation and seniority during periods of maternity and paternity leave.  However, parental leave has an impact on the calculation of the vacation.

For more information please visit Quebec Maternity Leave Factsheet , the Quebec Paternity Leave Factsheet and the Quebec Parent Leave Factsheet.

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