Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles Chapter 12 - Section 2

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12.2.0 Who can receive maternity benefits

Maternity benefits are available for the period surrounding the birth of the child, to an eligible woman who can prove her pregnancy and attests to the expected or actual date of confinement.

12.2.1 Qualifying and entitlement conditions

Maternity benefits under the EI program are payable to a motherFootnote 1 who has experienced an interruption of earningsFootnote 2, is major attached; that is, has accumulated 600 or more hours of insurable employment in the qualifying periodFootnote 3.

In the case of a surrogate pregnancy, it is the surrogate mother who experiences the physical inability to work associated with pregnancy and childbirth and as such is entitled to maternity benefits, provided all other qualifying and entitlement conditions are met.

Maternity benefits are also accessible to self-employed personsFootnote 4 who have voluntarily registered into the EI programFootnote 5.

A pregnant woman who is unemployed and already receiving Employment Insurance benefits can also apply and may be entitled to maternity benefits.

Pursuant to a regulatory provisionFootnote 6 , a person who is entitled to receive benefits from a provincial plan in respect of the birth or the adoption of a child (for example, in receipt of Québec Parental Insurance Plan benefits) is not entitled to receive maternity or parental benefits under the EI program in respect of this same birth or adoption.

12.2.2 Proof of pregnancy

A woman claiming maternity benefits must provide to the Commission a signed statement attesting to her pregnancy and declaring her expected or actual date of confinementFootnote 7.

12.2.3 The number of weeks for which maternity benefits may be paid

A qualified EI claimant may receive up to 15 weeks of maternity benefits Footnote 8 per benefit period, for a single pregnancy Footnote 9 .

These weeks do not have to be consecutive and can be interrupted for the receipt of another type of benefit as long as the claimant meets the entitlement conditions for any other types of benefits being requested. There is also a limit to the number of weeks of special benefits that the claimant may receive Footnote 10 .

12.2.4 Period during which maternity benefits are payable

The legislation Footnote 11 has set the specific time frame under the EI program, within which maternity benefits may be paid to a person. This period:

  1. begins the earlier of:
    • twelve weeks before the week in which her confinement is expected, and
    • the week in which her confinement occurs; and
  2. ends 17 weeks after the later of:
    • the week in which her confinement is expected, and
    • the week in which her confinement occurs.

This window for payment of these benefits allows the claimant to determine when, within this legislated time period, maternity benefits will begin or end.

Claimants have the ability to set up their maternity claim a maximum of 13 weeks prior to their expected date of confinement (EDC), provided they meet both the 600 hours entrance requirement for special benefits and the variable entrance for regular benefits in their economic region. This allows them to serve the one week waiting period the week prior to the start of their maternity window and be paid a full 12 weeks of benefits prior to their EDC.

In the event that the child is hospitalized within this defined period, the window for payment of maternity benefits may be extended by the number of weeks that the child is in hospitalFootnote 12. However, any such extension cannot exceed the period of 52 weeks following the week of the child’s birthFootnote 13. It should be noted that an extension of the maternity window does not have the effect of extending the benefit period that ends in the usual mannerFootnote 14.

12.2.5 Antedates

Standard adjudication principles will apply when a claimant requests an antedate of a claim for maternity benefits. A lenient approach will be applied, in the same manner as for other special benefits Footnote 15 .

12.2.6 Waiting period

Like all claims for EI benefits, a one week waiting period must be served Footnote 16 when an initial benefit period is established and before maternity benefits can be paid. However, the waiting period may be waived if, after having ceased work, the claimant has received sick leave paid by her employer Footnote 17 . In situations when the claimant works for more than one employer, if she was paid sick leave pay after ceasing work from one of these employers and had an interruption of earnings Footnote 18 for the same employer, the conditions have been met to waive the waiting period Footnote 19 .

Regulation 76.22 Footnote 20 authorizes waiving the waiting period where benefits have been paid under a provincial plan such as the Québec Parental Insurance Plan.

12.2.7 Earnings

Any earnings received while in receipt of EI maternity benefits must be declared and will be deducted from benefits at a rate of 50 cents of EI benefits for every dollar earned or received while on claim, up to a maximum of 90 percent of the weekly earnings used to establish their EI benefit rate. Any earnings above this threshold are deducted dollar for dollar from benefits [EI Act 19(2)].

The sole exception to this provision is for wage loss indemnity (WLI) or paid sick leave (PSL) payments paid by an employer who is registered in the Premium Reduction Program (PRP). WLI or PSL payments paid though a registered plan and for which the employer has been granted a premium reduction continue to be deducted dollar for dollar during the benefit period; this ensures that employers registered in the PRP remain first payers [EI Act 22(5)].

Detailed information on the rules regarding the deduction of earnings while receiving benefits can be found in Digest Chapter 1.9.8 – Earnings while on claim and on the Government of Canada website.

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