Labour

New and extended leaves support working families

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Labour

New and extended leaves support working families

Media Contacts
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Labour
778 698-8964
Media Contacts
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Labour
778 698-8964

Backgrounders

Amendments for leaves of absence under the Employment Standards Act

Pregnancy and parental leaves

  • Changes to the maternity and parental leaves will be available to people currently on a parental leave, who have requested leave but have not yet taken it, or who may be planning leave when the amendments come into force.
  • The legislative amendments will align B.C.’s pregnancy and parental leave periods with new federal EI maternity and parental benefits, which came into effect in December 2017.

Pregnancy leave

  • Pregnancy leave — often called maternity leave — is 17 consecutive weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave taken by expectant or new mothers near the end of a pregnancy and immediately after childbirth.
  • The proposed change will allow pregnant workers to begin unpaid, job-protected pregnancy leave 13 weeks before their expected due date, up from the current 11 weeks.
  • This will provide workers with more flexibility to consider their personal, health, and workplace circumstances when choosing to begin their pregnancy leave.  

Parental leave

  • Parental leave is unpaid, job-protected leave taken by any parent, birth or adoptive, to care for a new child.
  • The proposed change will allow parents to take a longer unpaid, job-protected parental leave in order to ensure that those workers who take advantage of the new extended EI parental benefit will have a job to return to at the end of their leave.
  • Birth mothers may begin up to 61 consecutive weeks of parental leave immediately after the end of their 17-week pregnancy leave, for a total possible leave of 78 weeks (18 months).
  • Partners, non-birth parents or adopting parents may begin up to 62 consecutive weeks of parental leave within 78 weeks (18 months) of the child’s birth or adoption. As before, this slightly longer leave recognizes the EI waiting period.

Compassionate care leave

  • The compassionate care leave will increase the length of unpaid, job-protected leave available to an employee to care for and support a family member who has a significant risk of death within 26 weeks. The leave will increase from eight weeks to 27 weeks.
  • The proposed change will allow the leave to be taken at any time within a 52-week period, though the actual amount of leave cannot exceed 27 weeks in total. 
  • This change will align B.C.’s leave benefits with changes made to federal EI benefits in 2016.

Child death leave

  • The proposed change will support parents grieving the death of a child by providing a new unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 104 weeks, or two years.
  • B.C. is only one of two provinces, along with Ontario, to offer parents a two-year leave if their child has died under any circumstances, not just if the death is crime-related.
  • Consistent with B.C.’s Age of Majority Act, a “child” is defined as a person less than 19 years.
  • Leave must be taken in a single, continuous period, or, with the employer’s consent, it may be taken on an intermittent or part-time basis.

Crime-related child disappearance leave

  • Currently, B.C. is the only province that does not provide workers with the right to job-protected leave if their child has gone missing as the result of a crime.
  • The proposed change will provide unpaid, job-protected leave of up to 52 weeks, or one year, if a parent’s child disappears as a result of a crime.
  • Leave must be taken in a single, continuous period, or, with the employer’s consent, it may be taken on an intermittent or part-time basis.
  • If a missing child is found alive, the parent is entitled to remain on leave for 14 days after the child is found.
  • If the missing child is found dead, the parent’s entitlement to crime-related disappearance of child leave ends, and the parent becomes entitled to full leave for the death of a child.

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