Maternity Leave and Parental Leave

Under Alberta’s Employment Standards Code, employees have the right to certain job-protected leaves of absence. The Code ensures that employees can take time off work for numerous reasons and return to their job without concern. This includes long-term leaves of absence such as maternity leave and parental leave.

Employer Obligations for Maternity Leave and Parental Leave

On January 1, 2018, Alberta’s minimum standards of employment changed. As set out in the Fair and Family-friendly Workplaces Act, employees have additional rights to job-protected leaves.

Employers are responsible for providing time off for maternity leave and/or parental leave as set out in the Employment Standards Code.

Maternity Leave

Maternity leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave for pregnant employees to take time off for the birth of their child. Birth mothers have the right to take up to 16 consecutive weeks of leave and can start the leave as early as 13 weeks before the due date.

Birth mothers must take at least six (6) weeks of leave after the birth of their child for health reasons, unless the employee provides a medical certificate to return early.

Parental Leave

Parental leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave for birth and adoptive parents to take up to 62 weeks off for the birth or adoption of a child. Employees who qualify for parental leave include:

  • Birth mothers (immediately following maternity leave)
  • The other parent
  • Adoptive parents
  • Both parents, shared between them

The start of parental leave can begin any time after the birth or adoption of a child. However, it must be completed within 78 weeks of the birth or placement date.

Notice Requirement

Your employee must provide written notice at least 6 weeks before taking maternity or parental leave. While a return date is not required in the notice, employees are expected to give at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing of their intended return to work date.

As an employer, you may request, in writing, that your employee start maternity leave earlier if the pregnancy is interfering with their job performance during the 12 weeks before the due date.

What are your employer obligations for maternity leave and parental leave? 

If you’re unsure about your obligations to provide maternity leave, parental leave, or other leaves of absences, call Employer Line. You can reach our HR experts for free employer advice at 1 (888) 219-8767.