Between 2012 and 2017, more than 2.3 million Canadian workers took a leave of absence from work for the adoption or birth of a child. The majority of these workers were women who opted to take maternity leave.
While Canada does offer maternity leave, the individuals who take maternity leave may find themselves making less than they would have if they'd stayed in the workforce. Luckily, Service Canada offers many maternity (and paternal) benefits.
In order to understand how much you could receive in benefits, you should use a maternity leave calculator. But, first, you should understand what kind of benefits you can receive while taking maternity leave.
So, keep reading to learn more.
How Long Is Maternity Leave in Canada?
Employment insurance maternity benefits last a maximum of 15 weeks. You can start claiming these benefits twelve weeks before the expected date of birth. And, you can end these benefits as long as seventeen weeks after the birth date.
You should start your maternity leave when you're comfortable doing so within that timeframe. Mothers who claim their benefits usually do so when it is most convenient for them.
And, it's important for you to coordinate with your partner or any other family members or friends who may be helping you post-pregnancy. Planning is the key to making the most of this time.
Many people use their leave to prepare for the baby, get health insurance in order, and spend time with their families.
How Much Is Maternity Leave in Canada?
To help parents who are taking maternity leave, Service Canada offers maternity benefits in the form of employment insurance. These employment insurance benefits are usually reserve for those workers who have been paying employment insurance premiums.
In order to qualify for these benefits, you have to have at least 600 hours of insurable employment. These 600 hours must lie within the 52 weeks prior to making your claim. This time period is equivalent to about a year, so you'd be looking at 11.5 hours a week in insurable employment.
And, you must be pregnant or have recently given birth to qualify for these benefits.
If you're a surrogate mother or a pregnant mother planning to give the child for adoption, you can still receive these benefits.
Is Maternity Leave Full Pay?
If you receive maternity benefits, you can receive 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings up to the maximum amount for that year. As of 2021, the maximum amount is $56,300. If you calculate this, you should get an amount of $595 per week.
Parental benefits give eligible individuals 55% of their average weekly insurable earnings. This means that you can receive $595 per week. And, this runs for up to 35 weeks.
If you extend your leave, you'll receive a weekly benefit at 33% of your average weekly insurable earnings. This calculates to $357 per week for up to 61 weeks.
Can I Get Maternity Leave if I Quit?
If you decide to voluntarily leave your job, you can still get employment insurance benefits. Quitting your job only affects your regular employment insurance benefits.
However, your employer can contest the decision to administer employment insurance benefits. This usually only happens if there was a significant reason for you leaving. There may have been misconduct, a dispute, or another similar reason.
If you're considering leaving, consult with our "guide on talking to your boss" article. It has some great tips on how to have difficult conversations with your employer.
What If My Job Becomes Redundant on Maternity Leave?
If you are let go while you're on maternity leave because your job has become redundant, you are entitled to severance pay. To be eligible, you have to complete 12 consecutive months of continuous employment before termination. Of course, your time during maternity leave does not count.
What If I Decide Not to Return to Work After Maternity Leave?
If you decide not to return to work after maternity leave, your employer should treat your situation just as any other resignation. In most provinces, employees are not required to provide notice before terminating their employment if they're on leave.
However, some provinces or individual employers indicate a required period of notice. So, you should review your employment contract and review any other documents you've signed with your employer. They may outline how much notice you need to give if you're considering leaving your job after maternity leave.
How to Apply for Maternity Benefits
In order to receive maternity (or paternal) benefits, you have to apply for them. Service Canada will not automatically give you these benefits.
So, to apply, you should go online to Service Canada. Then, you can use your Social Insurance Number, home address, and mother's maiden name to apply for the benefits.
You'll also need to provide the due date if you're looking to qualify for maternity benefits. Similarly, you'll need to provide the date of birth or adoption for parental benefits.
Service Canada can send the funds that you qualify for directly to your bank account. However, you must also provide banking information upon the time that you're filling out your application.
Lastly, the application will ask you to give details regarding any employers that you've worked for in the last 52 weeks.
Employment Insurance for Self-Employed Individuals
Those who are self-employed may apply for special benefits through employment insurance. Usually, self-employed individuals don't have to pay employment insurance premiums. But, they have to do so if they're going to opt into employment insurance benefits.
There are six types of benefits that self-employed individuals can receive through employment insurance:
- Maternity Benefits
- Paternal Benefits
- Sickness Benefits
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Children
- Family Caregiver Benefit for Adults
- Compassionate Care Benefits
If you'd like to opt-in to receive maternity benefits or one of the other benefits listed here, you must register for the Self-Employment Employment Insurance Benefits Program. You can do so through your My Service Canada account.
We should note that self-employed individuals who opt for this do have to pay the same employment insurance premium as typical employees pay.
Self-employed individuals will pay this premium when they file their annual Income Tax and Benefit Return. And, unlike they normally do, self-employed individuals do not have to pay for the employer's portion of the employment insurance.
What Is Paternal Leave in Canada?
If you're interested in receiving paternal benefits or looking into them for your partner, there are a few qualifications for these as well. Those who are looking to qualify for paternal benefits must be caring for a newborn or a newly adopted child.
Individuals who qualify for paternal benefits can receive up to 35 weeks of those benefits. And, those who have claimed 15 weeks of maternity benefits also qualify for 35 weeks of parental benefits.
Families with two parents can share the parental benefits in the best way that suits them. They have 35 weeks to share between the two of them. An even split would provide each parent with 17.5 weeks in benefits.
The parents may also choose to have one parent that receives the full benefit of 35 weeks while the other parent receives nothing.
What Is the Difference Between Maternity and Paternal Leave?
Maternity leave is available for the individual who is giving birth. More specifically, this is a period without work for the biological mother of the child being born.
Meanwhile, paternal leave is available to any parents who are having a child or adopting a child.
Those who receive maternity benefits can also receive paternal benefits. However, those who receive paternal benefits are not necessarily entitled to maternity benefits.
Using a Maternity Leave Calculator
If you're looking to track your or another individual's maternity leave, you should use a maternity leave calculator. This can help you track important dates that you need to know in regards to maternity leave.
Tracking maternity leave can help you get more control over your employees' dates of absence. You'll be able to schedule better and understand when your employees are or are not available.
Taking Control With Life Insurance
If you're having a child soon or thinking about preparing for conception, you should take advantage of maternity leave. This time is great for healing, recouping, and destressing during an exciting (yet overwhelming) time in your life.
Use these weeks that you're entitled to spend time with family and heal from the birthing process. You'll have plenty of time to work later.
And, now that you're thinking about bringing a life into this world, you need to consider life insurance. If you were to pass away unexpectedly, your family would have no coverage if you don't have a life insurance policy.
However, if you want to protect your baby and your family, you should take a look at some life insurance quotes. Our team here at Insurdinary has pulled those quotes together to help birthing mothers just like you take care of their children and other family members.
With a helpful life insurance policy, you can spend your maternity leave time focusing on the thing that really matters: your family.