Backgrounder: Parental Sharing Benefit
Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits are available to EI-eligible parents, allowing either parent to take time off work to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. The most common scenario in Canada, however, is the mother taking on the primary caregiving responsibilities. Child care duties continue to fall disproportionately to mothers, both in the short term following the arrival of their child, and over the longer term, often due to the challenges of re‑entering the workforce after time spent away.
Budget 2018 announced the EI parental sharing benefit, which provides additional weeks of benefits to families when the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child share parental benefits.
With the sharing benefit, parents selecting the standard duration of parental benefits could receive up to 40 weeks of parental benefits, an increase from the current 35 weeks. Neither parent could access more than 35 weeks in total, requiring both parents to take some time off in order to access some or all of the additional weeks.
Parents selecting the extended duration of parental benefits could receive up to 69 weeks of parental benefits, an increase from the current 61 weeks. Neither parent could access more than 61 weeks in total, requiring both parents to take some time off in order to access some or all of the additional weeks.
Both parents must choose the same parental benefits option (standard or extended). Parental benefits can be accessed at the same time or separately. Once parental benefits start being paid on a claim, parents cannot change their duration option (standard or extended) but may change how they share the weeks of benefits.
It will be available to parents who make a claim for parental benefits for children born or placed for adoption on or after March 17, 2019.
Corresponding changes to the Canada Labour Code are also being made to ensure that employees working in the federally regulated private sector have job protection while receiving the parental sharing benefit.
Specifically, the amendments to the Code will increase the maximum aggregate amount of parental leave that may be taken by more than one employee for the same birth or adoption from the current 63 weeks to 71 weeks, while the maximum amount of leave taken by one employee will remain at 63 weeks. The amendments will also increase the maximum aggregate amount of maternity and parental taken by more than one employee from the current 78 weeks to 86 weeks, while one employee cannot take more than the current 78 weeks of maternity and parental leave.
The extended duration of the leave will also provide these employees with greater flexibility to meet their unique family and work situations. The leave provisions under the Canada Labour Code would only apply to federally regulated private-sector employees, and not to provincially or territorially regulated employees. Employees should validate with their employer or provincial/territorial authority the leave provisions that apply to their situation.
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