Parental Leave Changes Questions & Answers

As of December 3, 2017, there are new options for maternity and parental leave and Employment Insurance (EI).

Questions & Answers

Effective December 3, 2017, EI now provides two options for your EI parental benefits:
 

  1. Standard parental benefits are paid by the federal government at a weekly benefit rate of 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. For 2018, this means that you can receive a maximum amount of $547 per week for up to 35 weeks; or
     
  2. Standard extended parental benefits are paid by the federal government at a weekly benefit rate of 33% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. For 2018, this means that you can receive a maximum amount of $328 per week for up to 61 weeks.

It’s important to note that your choice with EI is irrevocable and cannot be changed once parental benefits are paid. If both parents are making a claim for EI parental benefits, this choice is binding for both of you (the option chosen by the first parent claimant who completes the EI application will be considered as the option chosen by the second parent claimant). For more information on the EI parental benefits, see the EI Maternity and Parental Benefits section of  Government of Canada website.

EI rules allow you to choose to claim the new extended parental EI benefits only if your child was born or placed with you for the purpose of adoption on or after December 3, 2017.  Once EI parental benefits are paid, your choice is irrevocable. Existing EI claimants already receiving benefits will not be able to switch to the extended option. For more information, see the  EI Maternity and Parental Benefits section of  Government of Canada website.

BCGEU, PEA and excluded employees will now have access to the additional parental leave and top-up allowance options described below.  Employees in other bargaining units do not have access to the options at this time, and employees are encouraged to speak to their union representative if extended parental leave and top-up allowance is of interest. 

You are now able to take your maternity leave up to 12 weeks before your due date. You must notify your supervisor in writing at least four weeks prior to the start of your leave.

You will need a doctor’s note to confirm your due date. Following current practice, your maternity leave will begin six weeks before your expected due date. You can defer it to closer to your due date with written consent from your doctor or midwife.

You must notify your supervisor in writing of your expected date of termination of your pregnancy at least 10 weeks prior to your due date or four weeks prior to the start of your leave, whichever occurs earlier.

You may choose from the two parental leave options:
 

  1. Up to 37 consecutive weeks* (standard parental leave); or
     
  2. Up to 63 consecutive weeks* (extended parental leave)

*Note:  The weeks include a two week waiting period that the BC Public Service continues to pay at 85% of your basic pay (even though Service Canada requires a 1 week waiting period).  If you have already served a waiting period for maternity leave, then your parental leave will be 35 consecutive weeks for the standard parental leave or 61 consecutive weeks for the extended parental leave. If you take the extended option, the federal government will calculate your benefit based on 61 weeks. Your benefit will not be pro-rated should you take a shorter leave or return to work early.

 For your parental top-up allowance, your options depend on which type of parental leave you elect to take:
 

  1. If you opt for standard parental leave, there are no changes. The allowance will be equal to the difference between your employment insurance payment and 75% of your basic pay for up to 35 weeks (based on EI paying 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount)
     
  2. If you opt for extended parental leave, your overall top-up allowance will be the same total value as if you had received the maximum 35 weeks allowance under the standard parental leave. The weekly amount will be calculated by dividing the total amount by 61 weeks to determine your lower weekly amount to be paid over the extended leave period.

For example: An employee who is eligible to receive a weekly parental top up allowance of $355 for the standard parental leave, would be entitled to a weekly top-up of $204 if they elected the extended parental leave. This results in the employee receiving the same total parental leave top up allowance ($12,425) regardless of whether they receive the top up for 35 weeks (standard parental leave) or 61 weeks (extended parental leave). 

You may also decide to select the extended parental leave but opt for the standard parental allowance. This may be of interest if you are not intending on taking the full 61 weeks of extended parental leave top up allowance.

Remember, your choice for your top-up allowance is irrevocable. Once the standard or extended parental allowance is set, it cannot be changed if you decide to return to work early.

If both parents are BC Public Service employees, you shall determine how you apportion the 35 weeks (standard parental) or 61 weeks (extended parental) of top-up allowance between the two of you. Both parents are required to choose the same parental benefit option, either standard or extended. You will share the top-up allowance between both of you.

For example (both parents are BC Public Service employees):
 

  • If the first parent selects standard parental leave, they will receive the standard parental top-up allowance based on their base salary. If the first parent takes less than 35 weeks, the second parent would receive the top-up allowance for the remaining weeks based on their base salary. If the first parent receives the standard parental top-up allowance for the full 35 weeks, the second parent would not be eligible for the parental top-up allowance.
     
  • If the first parent selects extended parental leave, they receive the lower weekly extended parental top-up allowance based on their base salary. If the first parent receives the allowance for less than 61 weeks, then the second parent would receive the lower weekly top-up allowance for the remaining weeks based on their base salary. However, the first parent may decide to select the extended parental leave but opt for the standard parental allowance. If the standard parental allowance is selected, then it can be shared by both parents to a maximum of 35 weeks.

As in the case of standard parental leave, benefit coverage will be maintained for the first 35 weeks of parental leave.  You may elect to maintain your benefit coverage (medical, extended health & dental, group life and long term disability) for the additional 26 weeks of extended parental leave by paying your own premiums. This would be the same for an employee choosing standard parental leave and then opting for an additional six months of extended childcare leave. To learn more, visit Benefits While on Leave or Layoff

If you wish to maintain your benefits coverage, you will need to complete an Option to Continue Benefits form and submit to AskMyHR for processing. Once you are billed for your premiums, you must submit payment to ensure continuous benefits coverage.

If you have taken maternity leave, you would have provided a copy of your claims detail from Service Canada for your maternity leave top-up. This amount shows the 55% calculation that Service Canada paid for your Maternity Leave. You must provide a copy of your claims detail from Service Canada for your extended parental leave that shows the 33% calculation. If you are taking the standard Maternity and Parental leave, you are only required to provide a copy of your first claims detail.

The other parent should check with their employer to confirm if they are offering the option to select the extended parental leave. The Employment Standards Act has not changed and, therefore, other employers are only required to provide the standard parental leave regardless of your EI benefit selection.

No, your choice is irrevocable once you or the other parent starts the leave and benefits are paid.

Employees are entitled to a combined 18 months of maternity, parental, pre-placement adoption and extended child care leave. If your combined leaves have not exceeded 18 months then regular employees may request an extended child care leave which is a leave without pay after the completion of your maternity, adoption, and/or parental leave. You must send a written request to your supervisor at least four weeks before the end of your leave.

If you are an auxiliary without leave benefits, your maternity and parental leaves are covered under the Employment Standards Act. The Employment Standards Act has not been changed and, therefore, you will receive standard parental leave of up to 37 weeks regardless of your EI benefit selection.