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Employment Insurance: Maternity and Parental Benefits in Canada

What is maternity leave and parental leave in Canada?

Maternity Leave:  Maternity leave is time off from employment that is allowed for the birth-giver during times of pregnancy, childbirth, post-childbirth, adoptions, and childcare.

Parental Leave:  Parental leave is time given to a parent that requests time off to care for their newborn baby or adopted child (Government of Canada).

Maternity and Parental Benefits Overview
Maternity Leave

Benefit name Maximum weeks Benefit rate Weekly max
Maternity* (for the person giving birth) up to 15 weeks 55% up to $668

Parental Leave

Benefit name Maximum weeks Benefit rate Weekly max
Standard parental up to 40 weeks can be shared between parents, but one parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard benefits 55% up to $668
Extended parental up to 69 weeks can be shared between parents, but one parent cannot receive more than 61 weeks of extended benefits 33% up to $401



  • employee is pregnant or has recently given birth when requesting maternity benefits
  • a parent caring for your newborn or newly adopted child when requesting parental benefits
  • an employee’s regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week
  • an employee has accumulated 600 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of their last claim, whichever is shorter


Eligibility Period:

Maternity benefits: An employee can start receiving maternity benefits as early as 12 weeks before your due date or the date you give birth. You can’t receive these benefits more than 17 weeks after your due date or the date you gave birth, whichever is later. 
Parental benefits: An employee must take parental benefits within specific periods starting the week of your child’s date of birth or the week your child is placed with you for the purpose of adoption.These periods are:

  • Standard parental: within 52 weeks (12 months)
  • Extended parental: within 78 weeks (18 months)

*Special Circumstances

How Much an Employee Will Receive:

The amount that an employee will receive varies depending on the benefit type and insurable earnings.  The federal government provides a quick calculation  on their website to help an employee estimate the amount.

Application Guidelines:

If an Employee would like to receive benefits they must apply as soon as possible after they stop working. If they apply more than 4 weeks after your last day of work, they may lose benefits.

Note: The employees first payment will arrive about 28 days after they apply if they are eligible and have provided all required information. If they are not eligible, the government will notify them of the decision made about your application.

Waiting period:

There is one week for which you the employee will not be paid. This is called the waiting period. It is like the deductible paid for other types of insurance.

If an employee applies for both Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits,  they only need to serve the waiting period once.

If they are sharing parental benefits for the same child, only 1 parent will serve the waiting period.

Notification Requirements

Employees must provide their employer with at least two weeks written notice before commencing maternity or parental leave. Employers may request a medical certificate stating the baby’s due date for maternity leave planning. It’s crucial to note that the failure to provide notice does not affect the employee’s right to take leave.

The ESA safeguards employees from any penalties for taking, planning to take, or being eligible for maternity or parental leave. This includes protection against demotion, pay reduction, or termination due to leave. A notable Ontario court case awarded significant damages to an employee who was penalized by her employer after returning from maternity leave, highlighting the legal protections in place.

Pregnancy and Parental Leave by Province:






British Columbia




Nova Scotia


Federally Regulated Employees

Understanding maternity and parental leave entitlements, rights, and obligations is essential for both employers and employees in Canada.  HR Proactive Inc. aims to provide clear and concise information to support employers that are interpreting maternity and parental leave processes.

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