How does parental leave work?
December 2021 – 15 min read
The government provides parental leave and maternity benefits to help new parents cover the cost of time off work.
Benefits are available to biological parents, as well as parents of a newly adopted child.
You need to apply for maternity and/or parental leave, and could receive up to $595 a week.
Am I eligible for parental leave?
If you’re living and working in Canada, you may qualify for parental leave provided you can prove that:
- You’re pregnant or have recently had a baby when applying for maternity benefits
- You’re a parent caring for a newborn or newly adopted child when applying to receive parental benefits
- Your regular weekly earnings have decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week
Even if you’re not a Canadian citizen, you may still be eligible to receive maternity and/or parental benefits provided you have a valid social insurance number (SIN).
If you have had a recent EI claim, this may impact your eligibility, or may mean that you aren’t able to receive the maximum benefits available. Until September 24, 2022, you must be able to demonstrate that you’ve completed 420 insured hours of work (for example, 12 weeks of full-time work at 35 hours a week) in the year before you make an EI claim to cover parental leave. You can find out more about the complete rules for eligibility on the Government of Canada websiteOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window.
How to apply
You can apply online via the Service Canada website or in person at Service Canada centre (again, if you’re in Quebec, you’ll need to apply via the QPIP website). You’ll need to provide information such as:
Your SIN number
Your bank details (so the government knows where to pay your benefits)
A Record of Employment (ROE) from your employer
Government issued ID (such as a passport or driver’s license)
The amount of time you’ll take off work, along with how you choose to split this between parents is a personal decision.
Make sure to apply for benefits as soon as you become eligible to allow plenty of time for processing.
Some employers will top up your benefits pay, so make sure to discuss your options with your HR rep as soon as you know you’re expanding your family.
The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.