Parental leave provides employees with an opportunity to adjust to their new roles as parents and is a healthy and beneficial way employers can offer support. In Alberta, this is not only an employer best practice – it is the law. Employers must provide new parents with parental leave as specified in the Employment Standards Code. These Alberta employment standards exist to protect the well-being of workers and to ensure they won’t have to choose between becoming parents and having a stable job. Here’s what employers should know about providing employees with parental leave in Alberta.
Parental Leave vs. Maternity Leave
In Alberta, these are two different things. Maternity leave is for pregnant women only, whereas parental leave may be taken by either parent after the birth or adoption of a child. Parental leave in Alberta is a job-protected unpaid leave. Employees on leave are still considered to be in continuous employment and employers must provide them with their job or its equivalent upon their return to work.
Which employees qualify for Parental Leave in Alberta?
Employees become eligible for parental leave after being employed with the same employers for 90 days. Employers may provide leave earlier, however they are not required to do this by Alberta labour laws. Alberta labour standards allow the birth mother, the other parent, adoptive parents and both parents to take parental leave.
How long is Parental Leave?
Parental leave in Alberta can be taken for up to 62 weeks. Parents may begin their leave after the birth or adoption of a child and must complete it within 78 weeks.
Notice of Leave & Returning to Work
Employees are required to provide their employers with notice at least 6 weeks before taking parental leave. Employees may still take parental leave if they fail to provide notice due to certain circumstances, but they must give notice as soon as they can. Notice does not have to include their return to work date. Birth mothers who are on maternity leave do not have to provide notice for parental leave unless they were planning on only taking the 16 weeks of maternity leave. Employees who are planning on returning or not returning to work after leave must give their employers written notice of this 4 weeks prior. If you have concerns about employees taking parental leave, get expert employer advice from our HR consultants. We help employers in Alberta navigate the Employment Standards Code, ensure that their business is compliant with Alberta labour laws, and improve their workplace documentation and policies. Call 1 (833) 247-3652 today to learn how to manage employees going on parental leave.