Changes to Parental Leave Benefits
The Federal Budget 2017 introduced changes to EI maternity benefits and parental benefits that took effect December 3, 2017 [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-maternity-parental.html]. The Canada Labour Code was amended to align the laws governing leaves with the new EI benefits. The key changes are as follows:
Employees will have the option to take either:
- an extended parental leave of up to 61 weeks for birth mothers, birth fathers and adoptive parents with reduced EI benefits at 33% of earnings, which must be claimed within a 78-week period (18 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption; or,
- the current parental leave of up to 35 weeks for birth mothers, birth fathers and adoptive parents with the current EI benefits at 55% of earnings, which must be claimed within a 52 week period (12 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption.
- An employee must make their selection of benefit periods at the time of EI application. This choice is irrevocable.
Birth mothers will be able to start taking their maternity leave up to 12 weeks prior to the expected date of birth, instead of 8 weeks currently.
As a result of the parental leave options, birth mothers will therefore be able to take up to 18 months of combined maternity and parental leave, as opposed to 12 months currently.
In addition, on January 1, 2017, the waiting period for EI claimants was reduced from 2 weeks to 1 week. [https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/waiting-period.html]
How does this impact you?
As a provincially-regulated employer, SFU is not obligated to provide the extended parental leave period. However, it is the intention of the University to adopt these changes and:
- allow SFUFA members to take the extended parental leave up to a maximum of 78 weeks (18 months), if they elect to do so,
- change the potential start date of a leave claimed by the biological mother to up to 12 weeks prior to the due date, and
- incorporate the reduction of the waiting period to 1 week.
Other than these changes, the benefits provided by SFU remain in place as follows:
A new parent is entitled to 35 consecutive weeks of paid leave as follows:
- one week at 95% salary (EI waiting period),
- 34 weeks at the basic formula, which is 95% of salary less the maximum EI benefit that may be paid (currently $547) and
- 43 weeks unpaid leave during which you may be eligible for EI benefits.
Where both parents are employees of SFU, the maximum combined leave entitlement (paid and unpaid) is 78 weeks.
If you are eligible for EI benefits, you can elect to spread them over the longer period, but you must do that when you make your initial EI claim and that decision is irrevocable.
Please note, your decision regarding the length of the leave you will take from SFU is not tied to that EI decision. When you apply to SFU for parental benefits, you will need to indicate the length of the leave you are applying for, up to a maximum of 78 weeks.
Contact the Faculty Relations Advisor handling inquiries for your Faculty.