Non-Returning Employees after Parental Leave

July 23, 2015

In Ontario our Maternity and Paternity Leave qualifications for an employee are clearly outlined. In most cases the employee will take all or a portion of the leave available to them. In some cases the employee will take all of the leave available to them but will not return to work. This can lead to staffing issues from the trickle-down effect relating to the backfilling of the employee that was on leave. A key consideration is to find out as soon as you can when the employee plans on returning to work. You should have a “keep in touch” plan for all employees that are on an extended leave whether or not it is related to childbirth. There are several other considerations that you can explore to help with effective planning for non-returning employees on parental leave.

Taking parental leave is not a suspension of employment. Absences that are not terminations of the employer-employee relationship do not interrupt continuity of employment. This means that all benefits the employee is entitled to are accrued during the leave period. For example vacation time is accrued but the value of that accrual is based on the income of the employee which is likely to be limited during the leave period. This also applies to the calculation of any pension that may have accrued during the leave and is due at the end of employment, if any.

Unless provided in writing an employer must assume that an employee on leave will take the full amount of time available to them. If an employee wants to resign before the end of her pregnancy leave, or at the end of the leave, she must give her employer at least four weeks’ written notice of her resignation. The four week notice period applies to any change in the end date either shorter or longer.

Parenting is an awesome and amazing experience. Some employees may feel they will miss too much or be a poor parent unless they stay at home. It sometimes takes them a long time to make this decision from themselves. Depending on how they structure their leave the employee knows they have between 37 and 52 weeks to decide. During that time as the employer you can communicate all of the ways that your firm can be supportive of parents. This might be flexible schedules, available daycare or other ways your company can help parents. Communicating these advantages in a positive helpful way during the employees leave ensures that they aren’t left wondering about some aspects of their work/life balance. Good employees are worth keeping.

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