Maternity Leave Benefits - Canada - Vacation pay questions
September 2, 2014 8:39 AM   Subscribe

This question is about maternity leave benefits (employment insurance) in Canada. Please know I have read everything online that I can and called Service Canada several times, but their recording says that there is such a high volume of calls they can't even put me on hold to talk to a human, it only gives me the option to listen to the recording or hang up. My question is regarding unpaid vacation time that is owed to me but I might not have time to take all of before starting maternity leave. Questions below.

Ok so my due date is Nov 7. I have 3 weeks paid vacation that are owed to me, which has accumulated during this year and last. My job is paid in salary, and when I start getting EI benefits for maternity leave, I will be at the maximum that they pay out. I know how much I will be getting per week, and how long. What I am confused about is, if I take a payout for one of those weeks of vacation before starting mat leave, will this come directly out of my EI benefits? Or should I just take the whole 3 weeks vacation and be done with it, since it will not help me anyway? (My work is short staffed and I have a number of projects to finish up in the next several weeks.) If I get paid out for a week's unused vacation on my last cheque, it seems likely that this will be directly deducted from the benefits, but it isn't clear. Does it help if I was paid for it on the previous paycheque?
Also, I wonder what would happen if I was on my scheduled paid vacation (planned to take right before starting mat leave benefits) and the baby came before the due date. I guess I lose the vacation then? But I would have already been paid by work for it, so I assume mat leave benefits would start after that. ( I would not get the full year of EI benefits in this case.) Correct me if this is not how it works.

Can someone who has been in this situation answer how it worked with vacation pay? It is really hard to get answers to my questions from the government! I have read a lot of conflicting information online and just want a straight answer so I can plan what day to start mat leave.
posted by photoexplorer to Work & Money (11 answers total)
Response by poster: Oh, and forgot to add...
I don't want work to owe me any vacation pay when I return because there is a chance I may not be going back to the same job again. I know some people carry over their unused vacation pay until the next year, but I would prefer not to do this so I don't feel obliged to go back to my employer if I find something else after mat leave.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:44 AM on September 2, 2014

Best answer: To talk to someone about EI at Services Canada, you keep calling. Hang up and redial, over and over until you get through. Calling in the morning is a little better because the volume isn't as high. After 3 tries I got lucky. Be persistent.

I went to a services canada office and they told me the same thing, keep calling.
posted by lizbunny at 9:52 AM on September 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

I found call volume lowest around 11:30 - noon Pacific. I could reliably get transferred. I just put my phone on speaker and made lunch / cleaned kitchen while on hold. If you get through have an hour set aside for your call.

That said, if it works like regular EI, probably the vacation payment lengthens your waiting period for benefits but does not reduce your total benefit entitlement. You would need to call to confirm and it all depends on your paperwork.

If you ask work to issue ROE on the day the baby is born then pay out vacation as vacation pay, then you shouldn't lose benefits even if you are on vacation. But it should likely be a wash, if they issue ROE after you finish vacation then your waiting period is shorter because you have no lump sum vacation payment.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:23 AM on September 2, 2014

Response by poster: Just to clarify a few things:

- It isn't a matter of waiting on hold, I can't even get into the que. There is only a recording. I have tried several times.

- There is no "delaying the waiting period" when you are on mat leave since it can't start after the date of the baby's birth and can't go past one year. The waiting period is 2 weeks no matter what. If any weeks of benefits are delayed due to extra income, I will not get them back later.
posted by photoexplorer at 12:32 PM on September 2, 2014

This may be a really annoying question but have you pressed 0 when you're connected? It's an automated system where you have to press 0 to get to a person.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:07 PM on September 2, 2014

You're conflating maternity and parental leave, I think.

Maternity cannot last longer than 17 weeks after birth, and cannot last longer than 17 weeks, but it can start something like 2 months before your due date. Parental cannot last longer than a year after birth, but starts after maternity and can be shared with the other parent.

Some of this depends on what province you are in. I'm assuming not Quebec, because you mention a waiting period.
posted by jeather at 1:34 PM on September 2, 2014

Response by poster: I'm in Alberta.
Yes, maternity leave and parental leave are separate, but combined they can't go past child's first birthday. (52 weeks minus 2 week waiting period.) Either way it is employment insurance paying you benefits for that year.
So if anything (like paid out vacation pay) delays the benefits from starting, I lose those weeks of benefits. I am trying to clarify if banked vacation paid out will be deducted or not. Or if it comes out during the last month but not on the last paycheck does that matter?
Say I got paid $1500 from work for remaining unused vacation, but that $1500 was taken straight out of the total benefits, I would be better off just taking the vacation time instead of losing it. Unless it is chose between a week of pay or a week of benefits, in which case I would still come out ahead because my week's pay is more than a week of benefits.
Sorry if this is confusing.

Pressing zero lets me skip some of the recordings, but I still can't get in line to talk to someone! Still trying every few hours though.
posted by photoexplorer at 1:53 PM on September 2, 2014

Best answer: The phone number is 1-800-206-7218 (just to help future mefites). Press 2, then 0 to skip through to calling in for talking to someone. I am serious, just keep hitting redial, 2, 0. Yes it's frustrating. No there isn't a way around it.

Are you able to just elect getting paid out for the vacation straight up now, before any of this baby leave comes up? If so you could just get past this entire headache and put that money in the bank now.

A lady I used to work with went on baby leave with an extra month of vacation banked. She told me she elected to take the vacation at the END of her leave, which bypasses this whole financial puzzle. I'm in Alberta too.

Another option I saw used was that ladies would sort out a plan with HR to take their vacation time before the baby, and notify them as soon as the baby was born. Then HR would stop billing their vacation so that the new mom could be eligible for mat leave. Then the vacation was saved for the end. You can also decide to start mat/parental leave early (rather than using vacation time) and then just tack the vacation time on at the end.

Regardless of whether you end up staying or leaving, inform HR and your team that you plan on extending your leave by using the remainder of your vacation after your EI leave is done. Then if you don't return, you can give them 2 weeks' notice before you were due to go back. And you'll get paid that vacation money without impacting EI, regardless. It won't be a big deal to your employer.
posted by lizbunny at 2:36 PM on September 2, 2014

I don't know how close your nearest Service Canada location is, but I would opt to go there in person for such an important question. That's what I did when I had questions about my medical EI. I didn't have any complicated questions about my mat leave. You take a number and when you're called you get to sit down in private with an advisor and have a detailed discussion about your particular situation. If by chance you are in Edmonton, I think you're best off going to Canada Place.
posted by kitcat at 3:13 PM on September 2, 2014

The other option is to drop a line or give a call to your Member of Parliament's constituency office and see if you can get one of the staff there to do the leg work for you. I had success doing this once when I was about to run out of money because an EI claim took months to process and the threat of a constituent going on welfare because of federal bureaucracy was a compelling enough reason to get them to check into it and accelerate the process.

This is what MP's are for and their constituency office staff will have contacts that you might not have.
posted by salishsea at 4:30 PM on September 2, 2014

Response by poster: Ok I finally got through! (After redialing many many times I finally got put on hold.)
So here is the answer I got:
If I am paid out for any remaining vacation not used, it will probably delay the benefits from starting for a few weeks. (In addition to the 2 weeks waiting period.) They will not start the benefits until I have missed the equivalent amount of money that equals how much extra vacation I was paid out for. (For example, one week paid vacation from work = about $1000, so benefits would be delayed for about 2 weeks since they will be paying me about $500/week.
But they told me that these weeks that were delayed could be able to be added to the end of my leave, even if I am past the child's first birthday. So it sounds like if you miss some weeks near the beginning, you are still able to collect the entire 50 weeks of employment insurance. That is different from what I read, so I hope it is true.
Either way, I will try to get paid out early so the extra vacation pay is not considered extra separation pay at the end. My payroll person is on holiday so I am not sure if I can do this or not.
posted by photoexplorer at 12:00 PM on September 3, 2014

« Older wiz khalifa sings about what?   |   Shepard... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.