Working in Alberta and about to have a baby? Or are you thinking of getting your newly adopted baby into your home? Surely, you have a few queries about the rights and responsibilities that are related to pregnancy, childbirth and maternity. Being well informed and up to date could help you make the best decisions for you and your family.
Every territory in Canada has its own set of rules regarding the security of the job during the period of pregnancy, and also the benefits of maternity leave. All these rights cannot be challenged even if there has been an agreement between an employer and employee. One can always agree to have additional rights apart from the minimum rights that are essential, but any kind of agreement to possess fewer rights would be considered as void. The minimum rights, however, would vary depending on the different types of employment.
Pregnancy is a special and the most important period in the life of a woman and thus it is necessary to provide her with all the care and facilities essential for the healthy growth of the baby. A pregnant employee is therefore eligible to take maternity leave for 15 weeks and parental leave for 37 weeks. This leave can start 12 weeks before the due date. Although the maternity leave is unpaid you might be eligible for Employment Insurance special benefits. The employee has to be reinstated to her old job with the same amount of salary when she gets back to work. Only thing to be taken care of by the employee is that the she has to give her employer a written notice 6 weeks prior to the day she wants to start with the maternity leave. And even if one fails to do so, the employee can always give a 2 weeks notice with a medical certificate from the physician stating that the employee is pregnant and indicating the expected due date.
Note that the Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on gender. It is contrary to the Act to:
- ask on job applications or in job interviews if an applicant is pregnant or plans to have children
- lay off or demote a woman because she is pregnant
- prevent a woman from using her benefit plans for the health related part of her maternity leave
- ask a woman to pre-pay her benefit premiums or to pay her employer’s share of premiums for the health related part of her maternity leave
- refuse to rent an apartment or house to a woman because she is pregnant, except in the case of buildings designated for seniors or adults only
- refuse a women the use of, or access to, any type of public service such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, schools, hospitals, etc. because she is pregnant
- If you feel like your rights have been violated in any way, you should file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission within one year after the discriminatory incident has taken place.