Employment Insurance (EI) and Parental Leaveachkarlaw-admin
Going on maternity leave or parental leave can be a very exciting process, but at times it may feel a little bit overwhelming. A lot of questions arise when planning what those few months off work will look like. What will happen to your job? Will you have enough time off to properly bond with your new child? Will you be able to afford to go on leave?
In Ontario, employers are not required to continue to pay their employees regular wages while they are on maternity leave. However, the Canadian government offers an Employment Insurance (EI) program for maternity and parental leave through which you can claim a reduced income.
This article will give you an overview of what you can expect from EI benefits, how much money you can expect to receive, and whether there are any other options while you are on leave.
What is Employment Insurance (EI) and How Do I Qualify?
Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits allow parents and people giving birth to claim some income while on leave from their work. This includes a mother who is pregnant, who has recently given birth, or who is caring for a newborn or adopted child.
Maternity (or pregnancy leave) benefits can only be claimed by someone who is off work to give birth, and the benefits cannot be shared between two parents. Parental leave can be claimed by new parents of an adopted or newborn child, whether they were the parent to give birth or not. If there is more than one parent, parents can choose to share the benefits by submitting their own applications and choosing the option that works for both of them.
In order to qualify for these benefits, you will need to demonstrate that you are pregnant, have given birth recently, or are parenting a new child. You also need to show that you are receiving 60% or less of your regular salary for at least one week of leave.
Finally, in order to qualify for EI benefits, you will need to have accumulated 420 insured hours of work in the 52 weeks (or one calendar year) before the start of your current claim, or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter. This requirement is only temporary and lasts until September 24, 2022, at which point it will change.
For context, 420 hours of insured work are equivalent to working 35 hours a week for 12 weeks.
How To Get EI benefits for your recent claim?
If you have concerns about recent claims that you have made potentially interfering with your benefits, or if you encounter problems with your claim, the Government of Canada can provide information:
- Do you qualify for EI maternity and parental benefits?
- Information on Pensionable and insurable earnings
- Apply for EI maternity and parental benefits online
How Much Money Will I Likely Get from EI Benefits?
The exact amount of money that you receive from EI benefits will depend on your current salary, or insurable earnings through taxes, and the results of your application through the Government of Canada. You are able to choose the number of weeks that you would like to receive the benefits, depending on what works best for your situation and how long you plan to take leave for.
For maternity (or pregnancy leave) benefits, you can claim up to 55% of your regular salary for up to 15 weeks, and to a maximum amount of $638 per week.
Standard parental benefits, you can claim up to 55% of your regular salary for up to 45 weeks, and to a maximum amount of $638 per week.
With extended parental benefits, you can claim up to 33% of your regular salary for up to 69 weeks, and to a maximum amount of $638 per week.
If your salary or insurable income regularly changes from week to week, a number will be determined from your highest-paid weeks of employment. Those are called your “best weeks”.
You are able to estimate your benefit amounts using this page on the EI website.
It is important to remember that all EI benefits from the government are subject to taxes at the end of the year.
Are There Other Options for Income?
In Ontario, there is no requirement for employers to pay their employees while they are on leave. However, employers can choose to top up their employees’ pay while they are gone. This might look like the employer choosing to pay the other 45% of their employee’s income while they are on leave.
If an employer does want to top up their employee’s pay, they can choose the amount and the number of weeks that they offer the benefits for. If you are not sure about whether your workplace offers a top-up for maternity or parental leave benefits, speak to your employer about what the options are.
Having a baby can be very expensive, and many new parents may experience concerns over how they will afford to take several months off of work. The Government of Canada has set up a comprehensive program that relieves some of the stress on new parents. If you are considering going on leave, consider investigating how much EI you will receive and speaking to your employer about whether your workplace offers extended benefits or top-ups for maternity and parental leave.
If you have further questions about taking maternity or parental leave, be sure to reach out to an employment lawyer at Achkar Law for more information.