Know your Maternity Related Employment Rights

Maternity benefits are provided to a mother when she goes through childbirth or when she adopts a baby. The Canadian government has certain rights and provisions for women who are pregnant and ensures that they are neither discriminated against nor subjected to any differential treatment. The maternity laws are also subject to the province you live in.

Job Security

It is important to understand that you have certain rights when it comes to being pregnant. For starters no employee can be laid off, terminated, dismissed, demoted, suspended, disciplined, or refused for hire because of pregnancy. Also, no organization can ask an employee to take a leave of absence or have job duties or working conditions altered without her consent because of pregnancy.

Regional Differences

Different provinces have their own set of legislations or code that govern the parental and pregnancy rights. This code includes maternity, parental, and adoption leave. Although much of the code is similar, you must make sure that you are equipped with information that is appropriate and applicable to the province you live in.

Minimum amount of time

You must have worked with a company for a minimum amount of duration before being eligible for a maternity leave. Your employer will be able to provide you with the information related to the minimum amount of time that you are required to serve. This law is applicable in all provinces except British Columbia, Quebec, and New Brunswick. In addition to that, to be eligible for employment insurance (EI) maternity benefits, you need to have worked for a specific minimum number of insurable hours. You are required to complete the minimum insurable hours 52 weeks prior to your leave.

Medical certificate

Your employer has the right to request for a medical certificate that confirms your pregnancy or birth. So if your employer asks for one, don’t be offended. The law permits them to do so. Also, some organisations require you to have a medical certificate that clearly states that you are capable of working without any risk to your health.


It is important that you notify your employer, in writing, that you intent to take maternity leave. Some provinces have a set determined time requirement to serve the notice. For instance, Alberta requires you to give your employer a six-week notice, if you plan on taking a maternity leave. You also might be required to provide your company with an advance notice, if the maternity leave end date has not been predetermined.

The fine print

A majority of the employment contracts include a clause the states the start and end date of your maternity leave. It is very important that you understand them very carefully. All Canadian jurisdictions, with the exception of Yukon, specify that your leave should not start more than 17 weeks prior to the expected date of birth. Some provinces require it to be 11 weeks. Depending on where you work, your organisation may have more specific parameters in place.

A maternity leave is a right that every working women is entitled to and the Canadian government ensures that this right is looked after and is not violated. Canada has two different types of leaves that are offered to new parents – maternity leave and parental leave. One important point to remember is that surrogate mothers as well as those who give their babies up for adoption are eligible for maternity leave.

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