top of page

How to Prepare for Maternity/Parental Leave Part 1

It's been a while since I went on maternity leave and things have changed a lot since then. I can honestly tell you that for the most part I wasn't as prepared as I could have been.

This will be a 4 part series that you can read on your own or attend an Online 1 hour Workshop with similar information. Email to register for the next monthly workshop!

Part 1: What are the Maternity/Parental Benefits while on Leave

Part 3: RESP Planning

First of all, there are Federal regulations and Provincial Regulations. I'm going to stick to my province of Alberta for simplicity's sake. For the most part the rules are very similar. I will only point out the differences.

Maternity Leave:

  • can only be taken by the person giving birth

  • can be taken up to12 weeks prior to the birth of the child but that cuts into the total 15 weeks of Maternity leave that can be taken.

However, some pregnant woman are quite ill and need to take the time off of work prior to the birth.

Pregnancy Sickness:

  • use your available sick time bank first (if you have one)

  • if you run out of sick time, then you can access Short Term Disability

Also there is the option of the EI Sickness Benefit which includes 26 weeks of financial assistance for medical purposes (ex. bedrest). You would need a medical certificate completed by a medical practitioner to apply for this benefit.

Qualifications for taking Maternity Leave:

  • you accumulated 600 of insured hours of work in the 52 weeks before the start of your claim or since the start of your last claim, whichever is shorter

  • your regular weekly earnings from work have decreased by more than 40% for at least 1 week

  • you're pregnant/recently given birth 

you're a parent caring for your newborn/newly adopted child 

If you received Employment Insurance benefits in the past 52 weeks, you may not be eligible to receive the maximum number of weeks of maternity or parental benefits.
However, if you've worked enough hours since your last claim, you may be able to start a new claim. Contact Service Canada for your specific situation.

Variable Income/Earnings:

  • If your weekly earnings vary or your income changes

  • To calculate your benefit amount, we use a specific number of your highest paid weeks of employment/best weeks.

  • The number of best weeks we use is based on the unemployment rate where you live.

  • It could be between 14 and 22 weeks.

Here's the specifics for Alberta.

How much will you receive?:

To Estimate your own personal benefits, use this Calculator!

The calculator provides you with approximate dates of when your benefits would cease and what it would look like to choose Extended vs Standard.

Some parents have used a mix of the

Federal Government's Standard Option for EI Parental benefit pay

while taking the Provincial Parental leave for 18 months (Extended leave), giving them some extra time to work casual before they return to their position again.


Once you have received payment for either the Standard or Extended Benefits, it is too late to change your option.

Family Supplement:

There is an automatic family supplement provided if your net family income is below $25,921 and you are already receiving your Canadian Child Benefit (which means that you have filed your taxes for the previous year). This supplement will provide some extra money for your family but will not exceed the $668/week.

Waiting Period:

Maternity: you should receive your benefit within 28 days of approval

Parental: if you apply for both Employment Insurance (EI) maternity and parental benefits, you only need to serve the waiting period once.

If you're sharing parental benefits for the same child, only 1 parent will serve the waiting period.

Now for Alberta's Provincial Guidelines:

  • Employees are eligible for maternity and parental leave if they have been employed at least 90 days with the same employer

  • Eligible employees can take time off work without pay for maternity or parental leave without risk of losing their job.

  • Employers aren’t required to pay wages or benefits during leave, unless stated in an employment contract or collective agreement

  • Employees on maternity or parental leave are considered to be continuously employed, for the purposes of calculating years of service.

The length of maternity leave is 16 weeks and the maximum length of parental leave is 62 weeks.

Notice this is a little longer than the federal payments just to give you some buffer room during the waiting period before receiving your Federal maternity/parental Payments.

Ending Leave:

Employees must give their employer's written notice at least 4 weeks before they:

  • return to work

  • will not be returning to work after their leave ends

Employers aren’t required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice or report to work the day after their leave ends, unless the failure is due to unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.

If an unexpected circumstance occurs, employers can approve an extension of leave, but aren’t obligated to do so.

Vacation Pay:

Annual vacation earned prior to leave must be taken within 12 months after it was earned. If this time falls while the employee is on leave, the employee must:

  • take the remaining vacation time at the end of their leave, or

  • get approval from the employer to take the vacation time at a later date

Pregnancy Loss:

If pregnancy loss occurs within 16 weeks of the estimated due date, the employee is still entitled to maternity leave but is not entitled to parental leave. The leave will end 16 weeks after it begins.


6 Months before Due date:

Provide your manager with a written request for the LOA with estimated date of delivery.

Management will complete the LOA request form and forward it to Human Resources (HR) Benefits Service Department


 Then HR Benefits Service Department will mail you a Leave Package which will provide an Information Guide and all the relevant forms that need to be completed.

3 months before Maternity Leave:

For parental leave, you may commence your leave with one (1) day’s notice as long as you have applied for the leave at least

12 weeks prior to the expected date of delivery. 

1 month before Maternity Leave:

For maternity leave, to commence your leave you must provide the employer at least 2 weeks advance notice where possible.

For adoption leave, as long as you have made the application for leave and it was been approved you can then commence your adoption leave with one (1) day’s notice.

Last day of Work:

On the last day of work you can start to apply for EI maternity and

parental benefits

Steps to Apply:

Step 1: Choose Benefits

Maternity Parental: Standard or Extended

Step 2: Gather Required Info

Employer Info, SIN, Banking info

Baby’s DOB

Record of Employment (ROE)

Step 3: Complete Online Application

Takes approximately 1 hour

Info will be saved for 72 hours

Step 4: Provide Required Documents

Mail or go to Service Canada Centre

Step 5: Receive

Receive 4 digit code and use it with your SIN

Step 6: 

Check status of Application

Now Go and Be Intentional about researching your Maternity/Parental Leave Benefits!


bottom of page