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Leaves of Absence

Leaves—Rights and Benefits

Note: This fact sheet has been prepared for general information purposes. It is not a legal document. Please refer to the Employment Standards Act and Regulation for purposes of interpretation and application of the law. 

Pregnancy (Maternity Leave) 

Rights

  1. BC Employment Standards Act (ESA)

a) Availability

  • The ESA grants a pregnancy leave to all pregnant employees regardless of the length of their employment.
  • This leave can occur even if the pregnancy ends in miscarriage or termination of the pregnancy.

b) Amount of leave:

  • An employee is entitled to up to 17 weeks leave of absence without pay, which may begin at any time up to 13 weeks prior to the expected date of delivery.
  • If pregnancy ends in miscarriage or termination of pregnancy, the employee is entitled to up to 6 weeks of unpaid leave beginning on the date of the miscarriage or termination.
  • After termination of a pregnancy, up to 6 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave.
  • In addition, the employee is entitled to up to 6 additional consecutive weeks of unpaid leave if, for reasons related to the birth or the termination of the pregnancy, she is unable to return to work when her leave ends.

c) Request for leave:

The ESA says that the request must be in writing and be sent to the employer at least 4 weeks prior to the start of the leave. However, the courts and the Employment Standards Tribunal have clearly stated that failure to do so will not take away the right to pregnancy leave.

If required by the employer, medical practitioner’s or nurse practitioner’s certificate confirming the expected birth date, the date the pregnancy terminated or the reasons for requesting additional leave.

d) Security of employment:

  • during the term of the leave the employer must not;
    • terminate employment, or;
    • change a condition of employment without the employee's written consent.
  • as soon as the leave ends the employer must place the employee:
    • in the position the employee held before taking the leave, or;
    • in a comparable position.
  1. Collective agreement
  • The rights from the ESA may not be diminished by the collective agreement.
  • Rights beyond those in the ESA may be contained in the collective agreement.
  • Contact the local for specific details.  

Benefits

  1. BC Employment Standards Act (Section 56(2) a, b)
  • Medical, Extended Health, Dental, Pension and Group Life Insurance plans for the length of the leave in the ESA:
    • if the employer normally pays the full premium, the employer must continue to provide the benefit plan(s), including pension, at no cost to the employee;
    • if the employer normally pays a portion of the premium, and the employee elects to continue the benefit plan(s), including pension, then the employer must continue to pay its share and the employee her/his share.
  1. Collective agreement
  • Sick leave maybe available if you are unable to work prior to the date of birth and for the 2-week period following the birth or termination of the pregnancy because of the pregnancy.
  • A Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan may be available which will top up your employment insurance, sickness, or maternity benefit.
  • Contact the local president for details
  1. BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan (SIP)
  • If you run out of sick leave, you may apply for SIP benefits.
  • Benefits are paid if you are unable to work prior the date of birth.
  1. Employment Insurance (EI)

Qualification for EI benefits:

  • at least 120* hours of insurable earnings in the 52 weeks prior to the start of the leave of absence (or in the period since the last EI claim);
  • the qualification period may be extended to 104 weeks by application if unable to qualify because of illness or maternity;
  • teachers and teachers-on-call earn 9.1 hours per day or 45.5 hours per week pro-rated to the percent of time worked;
  • a 1-week waiting period from beginning of the leave may be covered by the SUB plan, or if ill, by sick leave or SIP.

Duration of benefits:

  • up to 15 weeks, starting no earlier than 12 weeks prior to the expected date of birth and ending no later than 17 weeks after the date of birth or termination of the pregnancy;
  • benefits are payable during July and August.
  1. Pension (TPP)
  • Pension service credit continues to accrue when on paid sick leave and SIP.
  • For other periods of leave when not on paid sick leave or SIP, you may purchase the pension service.
  • contact the Teachers’ Pension Plan (604-660-4088 if Lower Mainland, or 1-800-665-6770), the BCTF (604-871-2283 or 1-800-663-9163), your local union office, your employer, or go online to pensionsbc.ca for application forms;
  • if you pay your contribution for the unpaid leave period (EI benefits are not pay for pension purposes), the employer will pay its contribution;
  • you may buy this time during the leave (monthly) or following the leave for up to five years from the termination of the leave.
  • The maximum period that may be purchased for one maternity leave is 17 weeks.
  • Cost is the employee contribution rate only, x FTE monthly salary x number of months to purchase and is always cost effective.

Parental Leave

Rights

  1. BC Employment Standards Act

a) Amount of leave:

  • up to 61 consecutive weeks of unpaid leave starting, for the birth mother, immediately following the maternity leave (unless the employee and the employer agree otherwise);
  • for other parents except adopting parents, up to 62 consecutive weeks, within 78 weeks after the birth of the child,
  • for an adopting parent, up to 62 consecutive weeks, within 78 weeks after the child has been placed with the parents.
  • plus five (5) more immediate weeks are available if the child has physical, psychological or emotional conditions requiring the additional leave.

b) Request for leave:

  • the request must be in writing, sent to the employer at least four (4) weeks prior to the start of the leave;
  • the employer may request medical certification supporting the employee’s entitlement to the leave
  1. Collective agreement
  • The rights from the ESA may not be diminished by the collective agreement.
  • Rights beyond those in the ESA may be contained in the collective agreement.
  • Contact the local for specific details

Benefits

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • Medical, extended health, dental, pension and group life insurance plans for the length of the leave in the ESA:
  • if the employer normally pays the full premium, the employer must continue to provide the benefit plan(s), including pension, at no cost to the employee;
  • if the employer normally pays a portion of the premium, and the employee elects to continue the benefit plan(s), including pension, then the employer must continue to pay its share and the employee her/his share
  1. Collective agreement
  • A Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) or Supplemental Employment Benefit (SEB) plan may be available which will top up your employment insurance parental leave benefit.
  • Participation in the group health benefits beyond the ESA period of leave may be available.
  1. BCTF Salary Indemnity Plan (SIP)
  • If you run out of sick leave, you may apply for SIP benefits.
  • Benefits may be paid if you are unable to work following the birth or termination of the pregnancy.
  1. Employment Insurance (EI)
  • Qualification for EI benefits:
  • at least 120* hours of insurable earnings in the 52 weeks prior to the start of the leave of absence (or in the period since the last EI claim);
  • one (1) week waiting period from the beginning of the leave may be covered by the SUB plan.

Duration of benefits:

  • up to 35 weeks of standard benefits starting with the arrival of the child (birth or adoption) in the home, and ending 52 weeks after the birth or placement of the child; plus an additional 5 weeks of standard benefits for another parent
  • up to 61 weeks of extended benefits ending at 78 weeks after birth or placement of child, at a reduced (pro-rated) benefit rate, plus an additional 8 weeks of extended benefits available to another parent.
  • benefits are payable during July and August.
  • parents may share the leave, both must meet eligibility requirements;
  • parents on parental leave are able to work while on claim. Parents and other EI claimants may keep 50 cents for every dollar of benefits, up to 90% of the previous week’s earnings.
  1. Pension (TPP)
  • For periods of leave when not on paid sick leave or SIP, you may purchase the pension service.
  • contact the Teacher Pension Plan (604-660-4088, lower mainland, or 1-800-665-6770), the BCTF (604-871-2283 or 1-800-663-9163), your local union office, your employer, or go online to pensionsbc.ca for an application form;
  • if you pay your contribution for the unpaid leave period (EI benefits are not pay for pension purposes), the employer will pay its contribution;
  • you may buy this time during the leave (monthly) or within five years of the termination date of the leave. Hint: the sooner you buy the leave, the cheaper the cost;
  • the maximum period that may be purchased for one parental leave is 35 weeks (12 weeks for parental leaves taken between March 22, 1991 and January 1, 2001)
  • cost is the employee contribution rate only, xFTE monthly salary x the number of months to be purchased and is always cost effective.

Family responsibility leave

Rights

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • Amount of unpaid leave: 5 days per year related to:
    • the care, health or education of a child in the employee’s care;
    • the care or health of any member of the employee’s immediate family

Benefits

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • Medical, extended health, dental, pension and group life insurance plans for the length of the leave in the ESA:
    • if employer normally pays the full premium, the employer must continue to provide the benefit plan(s), including pension, at no cost to the employee;
    • if employer normally pays a portion of the premium, and the employee elects to continue the benefit plan(s), including pension, then the employer will continue to pay its share and the employee her/his share.

Compassionate care

Rights

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • Amount of unpaid leave: up to 27 weeks to provide care or support to a family member (spouse, child, parent, guardian, sibling, grandchild or grandparent, and any person who lives with the employee as a member of the employee’s family), if a medical practitioner issues a medical certificate stating significant risk of death within 26 weeks.
  • The leave must be taken in units of one or more weeks.
  1. Collective agreement
  • Rights to compassionate leave; paid or unpaid will vary pursuant to local collective agreement language
  • Employer may grant a compassionate leave beyond amount specified in collective agreement
  • Contact the local for specific details.
  1. Employment Insurance Act
  • Amount of leave: up to 26 weeks to provide care for a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (6 months).

Benefits

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • Medical, extended health, dental, pension and group life insurance plans for the length of the leave in the ESA:
    • if employer normally pays the full premium, the employer must continue to provide the benefit plan(s), including pension, at no cost to the employee;
    • if employer normally pays a portion of the premium, and the employee elects to continue the benefit plan(s), including pension, then the employer will continue to pay its share and the employee her/his share.
  1. Employment Insurance (EI)

Qualification for EI benefits:

  • a decrease in more than 40% of regular weekly earnings
  • 120* hours of insurable employment in the last 52 weeks or since the start of your last EI claim (the qualifying period).
  • must apply for benefits
  • a medical certificate must be provided as proof that the ill family member has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death within 26 weeks (six months), and requires the care or support of one or more family members
  • can be shared with other family members who meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Care or support means:
    • providing psychological or emotional support; or
    • arranging for care by a third party care provider; or
    • directly providing or participating in the care.
  • Benefits paid to care or support one of the following: your family member or the family member of your spouse or common-law partner, or someone who considers you a family member, such as a close friend or neighbour.

Duration of benefits:

  • up to a maximum of 26 weeks of benefits within the period of the 26 weeks that start from the Sunday of the week stated on the doctor certificate indicating a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death.

General notes

Rights

  1. BC Employment Standards Act
  • maximum combined maternity and parental leave entitlement is 78 weeks
  • none of these leaves is cause for employment termination;
  • none of these leaves is cause for change in employment conditions without the consent of the employee;
  • on return to work, the employee is entitled to return to the same or a comparable position;
  • the period of leave is considered continuous employment for the purposes of:
    • seniority;
    • termination pay;
    • wage increases.
  1. Collective agreement
  • In all of the above leaves of absence, the collective agreement may be superior in rights or benefits. However, the ESA is the minimum and cannot be diminished by the collective agreement. Be sure to contact the local to determine the rights and benefits from the collective agreement.

*From September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021, 120 insurable hours are required for new claims

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

Qualification for Benefits

  • you were not working for reasons related to COVID-19 or you had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income compared to the previous year due to COVID-19
  • not eligible for EI benefits or in receipt of another benefit such as WCB or short-term disability (SIP)
  • did not voluntarily quit your job unless it was reasonable to do so
  • you are seeking work and have not turned down reasonable work opportunities during your benefit period

Duration of benefits

  • Benefits up to 26 weeks from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit 

  • Qualification for Benefits
  • Duration of benefits

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

  • unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week because you must care for a child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care and this applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they're sick, self-isolating, or at risk of 

Qualification for Benefits

  • unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week because you're sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk of getting COVID19
  • not eligible for EI benefits or in receipt of another benefit such as WCB or short-term disability (SIP)

Duration of benefits

  • Benefits up to 2 weeks from September 27, 2020 to September 25, 2021
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