Pregnant employees covered by the Provincial Collective Agreement who need to leave work before their expected delivery date for health reasons are able to use sick leave benefits, or short-term or long-term disability insurance, to replace their income.
Articles 22.04 and 22.05 of the UNA Provincial Collective Agreement address maternity and paternity/adoption leave. Employees not covered by the Provincial Agreement should refer to the contracts between UNA and their employers.
Beginning Employment Insurance maternity leave on the baby’s delivery date means employees can receive the full 50 weeks of benefits after delivery. The normal health-related absence usually begins four weeks before delivery, with a doctor’s note, but can be longer if there are pregnancy-related medical reasons.
It’s important to apply for EI leave benefits from the date of delivery. The one-week waiting period for EI Benefits will be waived on request and, as a result, you should have no break in income.
Top up benefits to 95 per cent of income
Employees should also benefit from the Supplementary Unemployment Benefit (SUB) Plan, which covers the valid health-related absence portion of the leave and tops up the 55 per cent of average weekly earnings EI provides.
If an employee has eight weeks of sick leave in their bank after delivery, the SUB should top up EI benefits to 95 per cent of average weekly earnings for six weeks. The six-week period can be extended if medically indicated by a doctor’s note. The SUB Plan lets employees with less sick leave in their bank top up EI benefits to 66.6 per cent of average weekly earnings.
Maternity and Parental EI leave now up to 50 weeks
Combined EI benefits of up to 50 weeks are available for parents. A maximum of 15 weeks of maternity benefits are payable only to the biological mother in a period before and following the baby’s birth. A maximum 35 weeks of parental benefits are payable to both biological and adoptive parents. Parental leave can be divided between parents (if each is eligible for EI) as they choose. Under UNA collective agreements, employees may take 12 months’ leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
When to start maternity leave
Employees have choices about when to start maternity leave, though employees need to determine when they want to use leave time. Sick leave may be used before the delivery while keeping all or most of the 12 months leave for after the baby is born. Employees must give their employer two weeks written notice of when they will start maternity leave. It is often best to list the expected date of delivery as the start date.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your UNA local executive or Labour Relations Officer at 1-800-252-9394.