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Under Canada’s Employment Insurance Act, eligible claimants are entitled to Maternity, Parental and Sickness benefits. Changes to this act took effect on December 31, 2000. This Briefing Note outlines these changes and offers relevant language proposed by Ontario Coalition of Hospital Unions (OCHU) for their upcoming negotiations. This language may be a useful reference for CUPE locals engaged in upcoming contract negotiations in the University sector.

There are four key changes to the EI Act relevant for CUPE locals in the University sector:

  • First of all, the Canadian government lowered the required number of hours of work needed in order to qualify for Maternity, Parental and Sickness benefits. Under the old legislation, workers needed 700 hours insured hours of work in the last 52 weeks, or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter. Workers now need 600 insured hours of work.
  • Secondly, the Canadian government increased Parental leave from 10 weeks to 35 weeks. Under the old rules, workers were entitled to 15 weeks Maternity leave, 10 weeks Parental leave and 15 weeks Sickness leave, up to a 30-week maximum. A combination of Maternity leave and Parental leave now covers 50 weeks. Sickness leave may also be combined with these benefits to a maximum of 50 weeks.
  • After a two week waiting period, biological mothers may take Maternity leave for up to 15 weeks. A worker may apply for Maternity leave up to eight weeks before she is expected to give birth or may start the week she gives birth. Fifteen (15) weeks of maternity benefits are allowed after the two-week waiting period. This is not new.

Parental leave normally follows Maternity leave. Biological mothers may now take Parental leave for a further 35 weeks, or they may decide to share these benefits with their partner, but the combined total Parental leave may not exceed 35 weeks.

In cases of adoption, Parental leave does not follow Maternity leave. Adoptive parents are entitled to 35 weeks of Parental leave. A parent applying for Parental leave is required to have 600 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter. Parental benefits can be claimed by one parent or shared between the two partners.

  • Thirdly, workers are permitted to work part-time while on parental leave. A worker can earn $50 or 25% of weekly benefits, whichever is higher. Any amount higher than that will be deducted dollar for dollar from benefits.

     

    Benefits are calculated at a rate of 55% of average insured earnings up to a maximum of $413 per week. Families with a net income of less than $25,921, with children, receiving the Canada Child Tax Benefit (CTB), could receive a higher benefit rate. This would be calculated automatically and requires no application.

  • Finally, if workers wish to share Parental benefits with their partner, only one waiting period needs to be served per birth or adoption. These rules do not change in the case of multiple births or adoptions.

As of July 2001, all provinces and territories had changed their employment standards legislation to comply with the new federal EI legislation.

For further information see Human Resources Development Canada website:

http://www.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/ae-ei/pubs/in201_e.shtml

 

2. Language in Existing Collective Agreements:

 

For both Maternity Leave and Parental Leave, OCHU has already negotiated 93% with top up. (The OCHU master agreement refers to “Maternity” leave as “Pregnancy” leave) As well, the employer pays the two-week waiting period up to 93%, even though EI pays nothing.

This language may be found at www.oha.com. Go to:

Human Resources Management and Educational Services (HRMES)

Collective Agreements on Line

CUPE - first agreement is the master agreement;

Articles 1206 and 1207 are the relevant articles.

For the upcoming round of negotiations, the OCHU proposed language for full-time and part-time employees regarding Parental Leave is included here below:

12.07(a) - Parental Leave

(The following clause is applicable to full-time employees only)

“(a) Parental leaves will be granted in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Standards Act, except where amended in this provision. The service requirement for eligibility for parental leave shall be thirteen (13) weeks of continuous service.

(b) An employee, who qualifies for parental leave, other than an adoptive parent, shall give written notification of at least two (2) weeks in advance of the date of the commencement of such leave and the expected date of return.

(c) For the purposes of this Article, parent shall be defined to include a person with whom a child is placed for adoption and a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of a child and who intends to treat the child as his or her own.

(d) An employee who is an adoptive parent shall advise the Hospital as far in advance as possible of having qualified to adopt a child, and shall request the leave of absence, in writing, upon receipt of confirmation of the pending adoption. If, because of late receipt of confirmation of the pending adoption, the employee finds it impossible to request the leave of absence in writing, the request may be made verbally and subsequently verified in writing.

An employee who is an adoptive parent may extend the parental leave for such greater time as may be required by the adoption agency concerned to a maximum total of twelve (12) months.

An employee shall reconfirm his or her intention to return to work on the date originally approved in subsection (b) above by written notification received by the Hospital at least two (2) weeks in advance thereof.

(e) Effective on confirmation by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission of the appropriateness of the Hospital’s Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Plan, an employee who is on parental leave as provided under this Agreement who has applied for and is in receipt of Employment Insurance parental benefits pursuant to Section 23 of the Employment Insurance Act, shall be paid a supplemental unemployment benefit for a period not exceeding thirty-five (35) weeks. That benefit shall be equivalent to the difference between ninety-three percent (93%) of the employee’s normal weekly earnings and the sum of his or her weekly Employment Insurance benefits and any other earnings. Receipt by the Hospital of the employee’s employment insurance cheque stub will serve as proof that the employee is in receipt of unemployment parental benefits.

The employee’s normal weekly earnings shall be determined by multiplying the employee’s regular hourly rate on his or her last day worked prior to the commencement of the leave times the employee’s normal weekly hours, plus any wage increase or salary increment that the employee would be entitled to if he or she were not on parental leave.

In addition to the foregoing, the Hospital shall pay the employee ninety-three percent (93%) of his or her normal weekly earnings during the first two (2) week period of the leave while waiting to receive Employment Insurance benefits.

The employee does not have any vested right except to receive payments for the covered unemployment period. The plan provides that payment in respect of guaranteed annual remuneration or in respect of deferred remuneration or severance pay benefits are not reduced or increased by payments received under the plan.

(f) Credits for service and seniority shall accumulate for the duration of the leave.

(g) The Hospital will continue to pay its share of the premiums of the subsidized employee benefits, including pension, in which the employee is participating for the duration of the leave.

(h) Subject to any changes to the employee’s status which would have occurred had he or she not been on parental leave, the employee shall be reinstated to her former duties, on the same shift in the same department, and at the same rate of pay.”

24. 12.07(b) - Parental Leave

(The following clause is applicable to part-time employees only)

“(a) Parental leaves will be granted in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Standards Act, except where amended in this provision. The service requirement for eligibility for parental leave shall be thirteen (13) weeks of continuous service.

(b) An employee, who qualifies for parental leave, other than an adoptive parent, shall give written notification of at least two (2) weeks in advance of the date of the commencement of such leave and the expected date of return.

(c) For the purposes of this article, parent shall be defined to include a person with whom a child is placed for adoption and a person who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of a child and who intends to treat the child as his or her own.

(d) An employee who is an adoptive parent shall advise the Hospital as far in advance as possible of having qualified to adopt a child, and shall request the leave of absence, in writing, upon receipt of confirmation of the pending adoption. If, because of late receipt of confirmation of the pending adoption, the employee finds it impossible to request the leave of absence in writing, the request may be made verbally and subsequently verified in writing.

An employee who is an adoptive parent may extend the parental leave for such greater time as may be required by the adoption agency concerned to a maximum total of twelve (12) months.

An employee shall reconfirm his or her intention to return to work on the date originally approved in subsection (b) above by written notification received by the Hospital at least two (2) weeks in advance thereof.

(e) Effective on confirmation by the Canada Employment Insurance Commission of the appropriateness of the Hospital’s Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Plan, an employee who is on parental leave as provided under this Agreement who has applied for and is in receipt of Employment Insurance parental benefits pursuant to Section 23 of the Employment Insurance Act, shall be paid a supplemental unemployment benefit for a period not exceeding thirty-five (35) weeks. That benefit shall be equivalent to the difference between ninety-three percent (93%) of the employee’s normal weekly earnings and the sum of his or her weekly employment insurance benefits and any other earnings. Receipt by the Hospital of the employee’s employment insurance cheque stub will serve as proof that the employee is in receipt of unemployment parental benefits.

The employee’s normal weekly earnings shall be determined by multiplying the employee’s regular hourly rate on his or her last day worked prior to the commencement of the leave times the employee’s normal weekly hours, plus any wage increase or salary increment that the employee would be entitled to if he or she were not on parental leave.

In addition to the foregoing the Hospital shall pay the employee ninety-three percent (93%) of his or her normal weekly earnings during the first two (2) week period of the leave while waiting to receive Employment Insurance benefits.

The employee does not have any vested right except to receive payments for the covered unemployment period. The plan provides that payment in respect of guaranteed annual remuneration or in respect of deferred remuneration or severance pay benefits are not reduced or increased by payments received under the plan.

(f) Credits for service and seniority shall accumulate for the duration of the leave on the basis of what the employee’s normal regular hours of work would have been.

(g) The Hospital will continue to pay the percentage in lieu of benefits and its share of the pension contribution for the duration of the leave. The Hospital will register these benefits with the Unemployment Benefit Plan.

(h) Subject to any changes to the employee’s status which would have occurred had he or she not been on parental leave, the employee shall be reinstated to her former duties, on the same shift in the same department, and at the same rate of pay.”

ANNEX 1

HRDC

Length of Maternity, Parental and Adoption Leave (unpaid) in Employment/Labour Standards Legislation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JurisdictionMaternity Leave(1) (in weeks)Parental Leave (in weeks)Adoption Leave(1) (in weeks)
Federal17(2)37(2)37
Alta1537(4)37(4)
B.C.1737(3),(5)37(5)
Man.1737(5)37(5)
N.B.17(2)37(2)37
Nfld.1735(5)52(5),(7)
NWT17(2)37(2),(5)>37(5)
N.S.1752(3),(5)52(5)
Nunavut1737(2),(5)37(5)
Ontario173737(3),(5)
P.E.I.173552
Quebec1852(5)52(5)
Sask.1837(5),(6)52(7)
Yukon1737(4)37(4)

Eligibility requirements: To qualify for maternity or parental leave, an employee must normally have completed a specific period of continuous employment. However, some provinces– British Columbia, new Brunswick and Quebec– do not require a specific length of service. ontario requires 13 weeks of serve; Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island require 20 continuous weeks; and Saskatchewan requies 20 week sin the 52 weeks preceding the requested leave. The federal jurisdiction permits an employee to take the leave after six months of continuous service, and Manitoba after seven months. Alberta, Nova Scotia and the three territoriers require 12 months of service. In addition, in all jurisdictions, a medical certificate must be provided or may be requested by the employer, and an employee must notify the employer, usually two to four weeks in advance (six weeks in Alberta), of his/her intent to take maternity or parental leave.

(1) A number of jurisdictions allow maternity and/or parental leave (for natural or adoptive parents) to be extended under certain circumstances, such as late births or health problems of the mother or child.

(2) In the federal jurisdiction, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, the maximum combined duration of maternity and parental leave may not exceed 52 weeks.

(3) In the case of an employee who has taken maternity leave, the maximum parental leave is 35 weeks.

(4) The Alberta legislation stipulates that there is no requirement to grant parental leave to more than one parent at a time if both parents of a child work for the same employer. in the Yukon, parents who share a parental leave cannot normally take their leave at the same time, whether or not they work for the same employer.

(5) A majority of jurisdictions, namely British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan (with respect to parental leave), Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, permit both parents to take the full parental or adoption leave.

(6) In Saskatchewan, an employee who is entitled to maternity or adoption leave may not take more than 34 weeks of parental leave.

(7) In Newfoundland, an elegible employee is entitled to 17 weeks of adoption leave, to which can be added 35 weeks of parental leave. in Saskatchewan, an eligible employee is entitled to 18 weeks of adoption leave if he or she is the adoptive parent who will be the primary caregiver; to thse 18 weeks may be added 34 weeks of parental leave. In both provinces, an eligible adoptive parent may therefore take up to 52 weeks of cumulative leave.