Parental Leave Counts

July 23, 2015

For many HR professionals Maternity Leave is the primary issue they have to deal with when it comes to child birth. According to Statscan 9.4% of fathers take parental leave. On average these fathers take 7 weeks of leave after the arrival of their newborn. That works out to about 1 in 10 of your male employees will be taking parental leave in a given year. This could be a significant number if you have a large workforce or it is predominantly male. It is believed that social factors have kept the rate of those taking leave lower than in other locations. In Quebec for instance about 80% of fathers take parental leave. (Quebec has an enhanced Parental Leave program.)

The average age of first time fathers in Canada is 28.3 years. Based on the average age of your employees and the size of your workforce you can start to estimate how much parental leave will impact your organization. As with maternity leave there legislated requirements for parental leave. Two things that employees should know about parental leave are: splitting of coverage and notice period.

Employees must give their employers four weeks notice before they plan on starting parental leave and four weeks notice for when they plan on ending their leave. The employee might find it easy to provide both dates at one time, if they know in advance. The return date is a critical date. An employee that does not return by the date they have provided is subject to termination. This isn’t to say that employers can’t be flexible but the return date is in place to protect employers. These dates are important for planning purposes. In some cases a temporary employee’s termination date is scheduled to coincide with the return date of the employee.

It is common for new parents to plan on a year of leave after the birth of a child. This is only possible if the mother takes the full allowance for both maternity and parental leave. The mother and father can take any combination of continuous weeks for a total of 37 total weeks. The parents cannot alternate leave. If both parents are going to use part of the available 37 weeks they will either both be home for some portion of the leave or the father will take his leave after the mother. The mother must start her leave at the conclusion of her maternity leave. Adoptive parents are also entitled to leave. You may not receive the same length of advance notice from adoptive parents.

Any kind of a leave puts strain on an organization. At least with parental leave there is usually some advance notice. Be sure and check out our Maternity Leave Obligations post.

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