Parental leave in Ontario
September 6, 2016 6:02 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I are expecting our first child in early December and we're super-confused about how parental leave works. We're getting a lot of contradictory answers from people we talk to. I'd like to take 2.5 months away and my wife would like to take 12 months away. Can someone who is familiar with parental leave in Ontario tell me if that's possible?

Basically, we're trying to understand whether the 12 months allowed for parental leave is to be shared between the parents or whether each parent can take up to 12 months separately.
posted by Proginoskes to Work & Money (9 answers total)
It appears to be separate for each parent but there are rules about when you can take the leave. The Ontario Ministry of Labour has a November 2015 guide (apologies if you have seen this before) that talks about parental leave and how it works in Ontario - Pregnancy and Parental Leave and it also links to the Employment Standards Act.
posted by Cyrie at 6:18 AM on September 6, 2016

I'm going to disagree with Cyrie if we're talking about PAID (EI) leave which is federal.

Federally, 35 weeks are shared parental benefits - meaning that between you and your wife you can take a combined total of 35 weeks.

Maternity benefits are for the mother only, designed as recovery, and are 15 weeks long.

That's all you will get EI benefits for. You may be able to negotiate different leaves with your employer. Be sure you do the math as EI benefits top out somewhere around $1700/mo. Your employers may top up your salaries, or in your wife's case short-term disability might as well.

posted by warriorqueen at 6:20 AM on September 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah, do you mean paid leave or unpaid leave? That's probably the source of the confusion. Your wife (if she is the birth mother) can take up to 52 weeks of unpaid leave, and you can take up to 37 weeks of unpaid leave.
posted by mskyle at 6:23 AM on September 6, 2016

Chiming in to agree with warriorqueen. For paid leave, it's 52 weeks total that are EI eligible but it's split between maternity for 15 weeks which is for the person who gave birth to the child and parental which is the remaining 37 weeks that either parent can take (either sequentially or co-incidentially - it doesn't matter, you just can't go over 37 weeks total paid).

At my work they topped up my salary for the first 6 weeks I was on EI but then that was it - it was just EI for the rest of the leave but I did continue to agree Paid Time Off while on leave and they encouraged you to take it at the end of your leave. (So come "back to work" and off EI but then take your PTO until it ran out and you actual went back to work.) So you'll need to see what your job(s) offer and then do the math.

Congrats! I hope you both get to spend as much time home as you want.
posted by machine at 7:00 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

To be clear, the federal EI for leave is 52 weeks shared, not for each parent individually.
posted by lizbunny at 8:03 AM on September 6, 2016

Agree with WQ. So in answer to your question. No you cannot take off 2.5 months while she takes 12. You could do 2.5 months and 9.5 months for her.
posted by saradarlin at 8:21 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah and just a note - it really is 35+15 = 50. Two weeks are assumed to be vacation or something. But you can be paid during the 52 weeks after your child's birth. (Source)

Service Canada is actually really great about these things so it might be worth giving them a call about your situation. They were incredibly kind and helpful to me with my first unusual situation.
posted by warriorqueen at 9:05 AM on September 6, 2016

You don't get EI benefits for the first two weeks, which are the waiting period (this doesn't really make sense in the context of parental benefits, but that's what it is). So it adds up to a year (52 weeks) but you don't get anything in the first two weeks. This applies to both parents, so combined you are looking at 54 weeks off to share, but you only get the benefit for 50 weeks.
posted by ssg at 11:05 AM on September 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

We just did this - I got 52 paid and him 12 unpaid.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:02 PM on September 6, 2016

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