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PDF versionCongratulations! You may be expecting a child, adopting, or planning on it in the near future. In any case there are exciting times ahead with many decisions to be made. Understanding your rights and preplanning for your leave can assist in making prudent decisions. The purpose of this bulletin is to provide some basic information.
Employment Standards ActThis provincial legislation establishes minimum rights to leaves from work for pregnancy and parental purposes. To qualify you must have worked for the employer a minimum of 13 weeks.
The Employment Standards Act defines your leave period as 17 weeks for pregnancy leave and 35 weeks for parental leave. You may begin your leave no earlier than 17 weeks before the expected date of birth. Parental leave must begin when the pregnancy leave ends. In cases where a pregnancy leave has not been taken, the parental leave is 37 weeks and may begin no later than 52 weeks from the time the child is born or comes into your care for the first time.
The Act sets out notice requirements. You are required to provide the employer a minimum of two weeks written notice of the date the leave is to begin. Notice requirements are waived if the child comes into your care sooner than expected.
Employment Insurance ActThis federal legislation sets out your entitlement to benefits during your leave period. You may be eligible to receive a maximum of 15 weeks of benefit for the 17 week pregnancy leave. The first 2 weeks are a “waiting period” where no benefits are received from Service Canada. The two week waiting period is calculated from the Sunday of the week of application before benefits are payable.
A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits are available to new parents. The full 35 week entitlement may be taken by one parent or may be shared by two parents. If there has been no pregnancy benefits claim related to the child (as in the case of adoption), a two week waiting period will have to be served at the start of the parental benefits claim.
To qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) you must have accrued 600 insurable employment hours within the 52 week period prior to your claim for benefits. You may begin your claim up to eight weeks in advance of the birth of your child and no later than the birth of your child. A claim for parental benefits must begin no later than 52 weeks after the child has come into your care.
Collective Agreement Your collective agreement contains important language to review. Supplemental Employment Benefits (SEB) is a program of income replacement during the two week EI waiting period and often, for a period thereafter. As well, collective agreements contain important language on extended leaves, salary, benefits, sick leave, miscellaneous leaves, and other protocols which are relevant to teachers planning a family.
There are financial ramifications in taking a pregnancy parental leave. If you haven’t checked your pay stub lately, take a closer look. Understand your salary, pay periods and deductions. This will give you a better understanding of costs you may be responsible for on your leave. PensionYou can choose to continue contributing to your pension while on leave or later purchase credit for the time away. By buying credit, you will receive a higher pension and you may be able to retire sooner. Waiving the right to contribute to pension may postpone the date you can retire with an unreduced pension.
To buyback pension credit, payment must be arranged with either OTPP (for teaching members) or OMERS (for non-teaching members).
Tips on planning for your leave:
Relevant contacts: Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, www.etfo.ca, 1-800-838-3836, 416-962-3836Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, www.otpp.com, 1-800-668-0105Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, www.omers.com, 1-800-387-0813Service Canada, www.servicecanada.gc.ca, 1-800-622-6232Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, www.rhdcc-hrsdc.gc.caOntario College of Teachers, www.oct.ca, 1-888-534-2222Your local district school board and local union may have websites that will be helpful to you
For further information: ETFO's resource Pregnancy & Parental Leave – A Guide to Rights & Responsibilities provides more comprehensive information. Visit the shopETFO page to obtain a copy. As well, you may contact ETFO Professional Relations staff in Protective Services at 1-888-838-3836 or 416-962-3836 for further assistance.