Parental leave – IPG-014
Effective date: September 1, 1993
Revised date: January 9, 2023
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This Interpretation, Policy and Guideline (IPG) intends to clarify and provide guidance on the application of section 206.1 of Part III of the Canada Labour Code (Code) covering parental leave.
There is a need to clarify when natural and adoptive parents are eligible for and can start parental leave.
Division VII provides maximum flexibility for parents under federal jurisdiction who want to take parental leave. The Code determines the eligibility for and timing of leave for each parent.
The eligibility for parental leave:
- of one parent is determined separately from the eligibility of the other parent
- depends on whether the employee has or will have actual care and custody of the child
- depends on whether proper notice was given to the employer
Timing of leave
One employee may be eligible for parental leave of up to 63 weeks. The employee must take the leave during the 78-week period following the:
- child's birth, or
- child's coming into the employee's care
Subsection 206.1(3) of the Code provides that both parents may take parental leave for their newborn or adopted child. However, they must ensure that their combined periods of parental leave are not more than 71 weeks. This does not prevent parents from choosing when to take parental leave.
Employees may be entitled to a greater amount of parental leave due to:
- employer policy
- under their collective agreements, or
- employment contracts
Parental leave and maternity leave
The Code provides for up to 17 weeks of maternity leave. However, the total duration of the maternity and the parental leaves must not exceed 78 weeks when the parental leave is not shared. The total duration of the maternity and the parental leaves must not exceed 86 weeks when the parental leave is shared.
Parents having care and custody of a new-born or adopted child
A new-born child is in the custody of both natural parents, unless a court order declares otherwise.
The parents named in an adoption order or in adoption proceedings have care and custody of the child.
A parent is not required to be the primary person caring for a child in order for a child to be in a parent's care. A new-born child is in a parent's care when the child is living in that parent's home.
Therefore, it is probable that a child will be in the care of both parents, within the meaning of subsection 206.1(1), at the same time.
In cases where the new-born child remains hospitalized after the mother leaves the hospital, the parents can choose to have the 78-week period, in which to take parental leave, start the day the new-born child is:
- born, or
- released by the hospital into the parent's care
Examples of the combined total number of maternity and parental leave weeks that are taken by the mother and other parent
Both parents work in federally regulated industries and are eligible for parental leave. The mother's maternity leave starts seven weeks before birth and ends 10 weeks after the day the child is born. The mother chooses to take 35 weeks parental leave immediately following the expiry of her maternity leave. The other parent chooses to take 34 weeks parental leave starting on the day the child arrives home from the hospital.
Both parents work in federally regulated industries and are eligible for parental leave. The child remains hospitalized until 10 weeks after the mother's maternity leave has expired. The mother decides to take 32 weeks parental leave immediately after the end of her maternity leave, and then returns to work. The child's other parent takes 37 weeks of parental leave starting one week before the day the child is released from the hospital.
Same circumstances as the previous example, however, the mother decides to take 11 weeks parental leave, starting the day the child is released from the hospital and the other parent takes 58 weeks parental leave, starting 20 weeks from the date the child is released from the hospital.
Between the end of the mother’s parental leave and the start of the other parent’s parental leave, the child has a nanny for nine weeks.
Requirement or prevention for parents from taking the parental leave at the same time
The eligibility for leave and timing of leave in the Code are determined independently of each other. Because of this, 2 parents who work in federally regulated industries are neither required to, nor prevented from, taking their share of parental leave at the same time. Parental leave starts at the time chosen by each parent. The fact that a child is in the custody of both parents at one time does not oblige the parents to take their share of parental leave at the same time.
However, their combined parental leave periods must not exceed 71 weeks, in accordance with subsection 206.1(3).
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