Maternity Leave & Rights: 4 Things to Know
Maternity leave is a subject that is rightly discussed with sensitivity but was not always accepted as a basic human right. Therefore, employers and employees alike should take any form of paternal leave and its associated laws very seriously. The encroachment or waiving of these rights could mean you are not getting what is owed to you and your family. Always refer to official legislation, but feel free to refresh your knowledge with Heritage Law’s four things to know about maternity leave and rights.
1. YOU CANNOT BE FIRED FOR TAKING MATERNITY LEAVE
According to the Government of Alberta, “No employer may terminate… an employee solely because the entitled to or has started maternity or parental leave.” Essentially, the reason for termination must not be related to the employee’s decision to take time away for the care of a new child. If this business folds, your position may be lost– but you also are guaranteed reinstatement should it resume operations within a year.
2. YOU MUST GIVE NOTICE AT THE END OF YOUR MATERNITY LEAVE
An employer is obligated to reinstate you when your parental leave has concluded, but only if you gave four weeks’ notice prior to returning to work. This is also the employee’s chance to resign their position without consequence. Should an unpreventable or unforeseen crisis prevent you from providing notice, there are accommodations in place to preserve your job.
3. AN EMPLOYER MAY ASK FOR OFFICIAL DOCUMENTATION
While a birth or adoption announcement can be an exciting time, an employer does have the right to ask for medical or official proof of your pregnancy or adoption. For a birth, this could include an expected delivery date and will likely require the signature of a physician or nurse practitioner.
4. MATERNITY LEAVE IS FOR BIRTH MOTHERS, PARENTAL LEAVE CAN BE SHARED
There are exceptions, but a woman will take up to sixteen consecutive weeks of maternity leave– it is unpaid, but can start up to thirteen weeks before the estimated due date (though no later than the birth itself). There are provisions for employers should the pregnancy interfere with performance or if the employee wishes to return early, at a minimum of six weeks leave without medical approval. Conversely, the Government of Alberta assures that “parental leave can be taken by: the birth mother, immediately following maternity leave; the other parent; adoptive parents; or both parents, shared between them.”
While these are the four things about maternity leave and rights that we think you must know– there are many unique situations, so you will never know everything! Thankfully the professionals here at Heritage Law are happy to help you with any questions or concerns about your rights as a birth mother or parent. Contact or visit us today!