Employment Insurance Parental Leave Benefit

Patty Young CHRP CPB

Author: Patty Young ~ CHRL, CPB

As of March 17, 2019, parents are entitled to receive extra weeks of Employment Insurance (EI) parental leave benefit when both parents share the leave.

The federal government has increased the number of weeks available to parents with a child born or placed with them for adoption on or after March 17, 2019.

How much time can parents take?

Parents who share parental leave benefit may be eligible for the extended benefit for 5 extra weeks (standard option)  or 8 extra weeks (extended option) as a “use it or lose it” benefit top-up.  Parents must decide which benefit option they wish to take when they apply.

Can parents change their option?

No, once EI payments have started parents cannot change their option.

Is the parental sharing benefits part of the maternity benefits?

No, maternity benefit remains at 15 weeks and are available solely to the pregnant person.

What is the maximum benefit one parent can receive?

The maximum period that one parent can take of parental leave benefit is limited to 35 weeks under the standard option and 61 weeks under the extended option.

Can parents decide how they want to divide the parental leave?

Yes, parents can decide how they want to split the parental leave up to the maximum benefits.  For example, a benefit could include 20 weeks for one parent and 20 weeks for the other, or 35 weeks for one and five weeks for the other. Similar conditions will exist for parents who choose the extended parental leave option.

What will parents be paid?

When a parent chooses the standard option, they will receive 55 percent of earnings, up to a maximum of $562 per week in 2019 for 12 months.

Alternatively, if the parent opts for the extended option, they will receive 33 percent of earnings, up to a maximum of $337 per week in 2019 for 18 months.

Can employers refuse extended parental leave benefit?

No, permanent employees have the same rights for shared parental leaves as maternity leave.  Employers may face challenges as a result of these new extended benefits, short-term (5 weeks) temporary assignments are tough to fill.  The alternative of having another employee cover the work for the 5 weeks is too long and may cause extra stress for other workers.

Are the Ontario ESA parental leaves the same as this new federal benefit?

No, the following chart shows the difference between Ontario ESA and the federal EI benefits:

Ontario Bill 148:  Fair Workplaces Better Jobs Act, 2017 also increased pregnancy and parental leaves.

If you require any further advice on this subject or any other employment-related matter, please contact Patty Young at 1-800-946-9205 or at info@workwiseconsult.ca