Why Is It a Good Idea to Take Paternity Leave?       

If your partner has a job, they may already be considering their options for maternity leave. Maternity benefits are only available to the person who is pregnant or has recently given birth.1 However, you can still take advantage of parental leave benefits as a new parent.

Taking a leave from work to support your child can be helpful to you, your partner, and your newborn baby. Research shows that children who grow up with supportive fathers are also likely to be more confident, show pro-social behaviours, are more emotionally stable, and may be more active.2 Additionally, having some time off from work after the arrival of a baby will benefit new dads by giving them more confidence in parenting and allow them to create a bond with their new child.2 Using paternal leave time is helpful for supporting yourself and giving your partner the chance to go back to work earlier if they desire to.

How Does Parental Leave Work?

Parental benefits are available to both parents of a newborn or adoptive parents.1 Mothers are allowed to take parental leave in addition to their 15 weeks of maternity leave.1

You can choose between standard parental benefits and extended parental benefits.1 Standard parental benefits offer up to 40 weeks at a benefit rate of 55% and must be taken within 12 months after your child’s birth. Extended parental benefits offer up to 69 weeks at a benefit rate of 33% percent and must be taken within 18 months after your child’s birth.1

These benefits can be shared among parents, so it’s important to discuss how you want to split this time with your partner.1 One parent cannot receive more than 35 weeks of standard parental leave or 61 weeks of extended parental leave, so you can still take some time for yourself if you decide to let your partner take the majority of the time.1 You can apply for EI maternity and paternal benefits online on the Government of Canada’s website.

Things to Consider with Parental Leave

An important step in preparing for a baby is to confirm that you and your partner are on the same page. Before you commit to a parental leave plan, be sure it’s the right one for your situation. Once the benefits payments have been made, you won’t be able to change your option.1 It’s also important to keep your employer in the loop through this process. It is standard to give your employer a written notice at least six weeks before taking the leave.3 Parental leave policies may also differ with each company, so be sure to check with your employer on how they can accommodate you. Your employer cannot legally terminate your employment or discriminate against you because of your parental leave, but they can choose not to reinstate you if you do not return to work after your leave ends.3 Each province may also have its own regulations as well, so be sure to check your province’s parental leave laws to learn about your parental rights.