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The Key Components to setting up Payroll: Part 6.1 – Extended Parental Benefits

12 mins read

This article is written to provide you further information on Maternity, Adoption, and Parental LOAs according to Saskatchewan Employment Standards, and to provide you with a guideline template and letter you can download to use at your company.

The Canadian Federal Government has set legislation concerning Maternity, Adoption, and Parental Leaves of Absence (LOAs), however, each province or territory administers these LOAs differently. Because of this, we recommend being accustomed to your business’s governing jurisdiction. In this series, we refer to Saskatchewan Employment Standards.

Reminder: If your provincial or territorial jurisdiction does not have legislation around a certain policy, the Canadian legislature takes precedence.

Before we continue, it is vital to know that Canadians are eligible to take up to 18 months of Maternity Leave, which can be confusing as the term ‘Maternity Leave’ is not as clear as you may think. So, to better clarify, this isn’t 18 months of Maternity Leave, it is 18 months of Extended Parental Benefits, which is a combination of Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave (both up to 19 weeks) and Parental Leave (up to 59 weeks) for a total of 78 weeks. Keep in mind that the longer you are on these types of leaves, the lower the statutory payments will be.

A. Maternity Leave

If you are pregnant, you are eligible to take up to a maximum 19 weeks of Maternity Leave in Saskatchewan. This leave extends to those whose pregnancy ends due to a miscarriage or a stillbirth up to 13 weeks before the estimated date of birth.

Accommodating a Pregnant Employee

If a pregnancy unreasonably interferes with the employee’s performance, the employer must accommodate by either modifying their duties or reassigning the individual. If it is not possible to accommodate the employee, the employer can recommend starting their maternity leave early, up to 13 weeks before the estimated date of birth.

Regardless of which route you take; it is vital that the employee’s wages and benefits shall not be reduced.

Beginning Leave Early Due to Illness

In the event a pregnant employee becomes ill and is required to leave earlier than anticipated, they can apply for Short-Term Disability (STD) through their employer’s benefit provider. To begin this process, the employee is required to provide medical certification concerning the matter.

Attention: When an employee finds themselves in this scenario, it is important to note that STD is not considered part of the employee’s Maternity Leave and can delay the start of the 19-week leave up to the birth of the child.

Starting Maternity Leave

Since the birth of a child is not always predictable, unless a cesarean is booked, Maternity Leave can start at any time during the 13 weeks period before but no later than the birth.

An employee who is expecting to start their maternity leave is required to give their employers as much notice possible, a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice before the leave is expected to start. This notice must include a medical certificate that states the estimated date of birth and the estimated return to work date.

In the event the employee adheres to the minimum notice period, maternity leave can be reduced to 15 weeks from 19 weeks, which is the government’s regulation. However, the employer can always provide additional coverage to the employee if this is in their practice.

Extending Maternity Leave for Medical Reasons

Maternity leave can be extended up to 6 weeks (for a total of 25 weeks) due to medical reasons, however a medical certificate is required. Employees can extend their maternity leave, provided their employers agree to this and to prevent any misunderstanding, such agreements should be in writing.

Once an employee’s Maternity Leave is finished, they have the option to either return to work or continue their Extended Parental Benefits, which means they begin their Parental Leave. Please be aware that if you are not eligible for Maternity Leave, you are still eligible for Parental Leave.

B. Adoption Leave

The primary caregiver of an adopted child can take up to 19 weeks of adoption leave. Only the primary caregiver of an adopted child can get adoption leave, which is decided by the adopting family. Adoption leave starts on the day the child becomes available for adoption or the child comes into the employee’s care.

An employee who is expecting to adopt is required to give their employers as much notice possible, a minimum of 4 weeks’ notice before the leave is expected to start. This notice must include what date the child is expected to come into the employee’s care, if this date is unknown the notice should include whatever notice has been given by Social Services, the adoption agency, or the birth parent.

Once an employee’s Adoption Leave is finished, they have the option to either return to work or continue their Extended Parental Benefits, which means they begin their Parental Leave. Please be aware that if you are not eligible for Adoption Leave, you are still eligible for Parental Leave.

C. Parental Leave

Parental Leave can be taken in addition to or separately from Maternity and Adoption Leave. It is worth mentioning that the parent who took Maternity or Adoption Leave is eligible for 59 weeks, while those who did not are eligible for up to 71 weeks.

If the employee is on maternity or adoption leave and is requesting parental leave, the written notice must be submitted at least 4 weeks before the employee was to return to work.

The new estimated date of return to work should be included in the notice. The parental leave notice can be included with the maternity or adoption leave notice, collectively known as Extended Parental Benefits.

Important Parental Leave Regulations

Parental Leave does not always need to be taken by the parent who was on Maternity or Adoption Leave. The decision can be made how the parents want to handle this. Below are the two options:

      • If one parent takes both maternity or adoption leave and parental leave, the parental leave must be taken any time in the period between 13 weeks before the estimated date of birth and 78 weeks after the actual date of birth or date the child comes into the employee’s care.
      • If the parent taking parental leave is not the same parent who took maternity or adoption leave, parental leave must be taken any time in the period between 13 weeks before the estimated date of birth and 86 weeks after the actual date of birth or the date the child comes into the employee’s care.

Statutory EI Benefit Payments

These EI program payments are temporary financial assistance to those who are on an Extended Parental Benefit Leave. The benefit payments are subject to the length of time you are on any leave. To quickly summarize:

    • Maternity Leave’s benefit rate is 55% of your annualized base salary, up to a maximum of $595 weekly.
    • Adoption or Parental Leave’s benefit rate has two options:
        1. Standard (Up to 40 weeks): benefit rate is 55% of your annualized base salary, up to a maximum of $595 weekly
        2. Extended (up to 69 weeks): benefit rate is 33% of your annualized base salary, up to a maximum of $357 weekly

For more information on this, please see the Extended Parental Benefits Overview.

Now that you have been introduced to what Extended Parental Benefits are, the minimum requirements set by Saskatchewan Employment Standards, and have a guideline that you can use for your business; please stay tuned for part 6.2 when we discuss Bereavement Leave, where we will also provide you with a policy template to download and use for your business.

Download the The Key Components to setting up Payroll Part 6.1 – Reference & Templates.

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Visit our Resource Library for all available downloads.

If you require assistance with any of the guides, forms or templates, please contact a BIG representative.

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