Employment Law

Paternity Leave in Alberta: Essential Guide

A father reading to his child during paternity leave in Alberta.

What is Paternity Leave in Alberta?

Paternity leave, often referred to as parental leave in Alberta, is a period of leave granted to new fathers to care for their newborn or newly adopted child. It is part of the broader category of parental leave, which is available to both parents. In Alberta, paternity leave is governed by the Employment Standards Code (ESC).

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for paternity leave in Alberta, a father must:

  • Have been employed by the same employer for at least 90 days before the start of the leave.
  • Work full-time, part-time, or on a temporary basis.
  • Have a newborn or newly adopted child.
  • Inform their employer in writing at least six weeks before starting the leave, unless there is a valid reason for not being able to do so (such as an early birth or an adoption placement happening sooner than expected).

How long is Alberta Paternity Leave?

Paternity leave, as part of parental leave, allows eligible fathers in Alberta to take up to 62 weeks of unpaid leave.

This leave can be taken within 78 weeks (about 18 months) following the child’s birth or the day the child comes into their care (for example, in the case of adoption).

It’s important to note that this duration is for parental leave as a whole. Parental leave can be taken by one parent or shared between both parents, but the total combined leave cannot exceed 78 weeks.

Is Paternity Leave Paid?

No, paternity leave itself is unpaid, however eligible employees may receive parental benefits under the federal Employment Insurance (EI) program.

Employment Insurance and Paternity Leave

EI benefits provide partial income replacement for fathers while they are away from work on paternity leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

Paternity Leave Top Up

Parental leave top-up is a benefit some Alberta employers offer to enhance EI benefits during paternity leave. It’s optional and varies by employer.

When Does Paternity Leave Start?

In Alberta, paternity leave (as part of parental leave) can start at any time within 78 weeks (about 18 months) following the child’s birth or the day the child comes into the parent’s care, such as in the case of adoption.

The specific start date is typically chosen by the parent taking the leave and should be communicated to the employer with at least six weeks’ notice, unless there is a valid reason for not being able to do so.

In general, paternity leave must begin no later than 78 weeks after the date the baby is born or comes into the care of the parent.

When Should You Apply for Paternity Leave in Alberta?

In Alberta, employees should apply for paternity leave as soon as possible after the birth or adoption of a child.

Employees should also provide their employer with written notice of their intention to take paternity leave and the dates the leave will begin and end. This notice should be provided at least six weeks before the leave is set to begin, unless this is not possible due to circumstances beyond the employee’s control.

Is Paternity Leave Part of Parental Leave?

Yes, in Alberta, paternity leave is considered part of parental leave. Parental leave is a broader term that encompasses leave taken by either parent to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. Both mothers and fathers are eligible for parental leave, and they can choose to share the leave entitlement between them.

Is Paternity Leave Part of Maternity Leave?

No. paternity leave is not part of maternity leave.

In Alberta, maternity leave is specifically designated for mothers and is intended to provide them with time to recover from childbirth. It lasts up to 16 weeks and can start up to 13 weeks before the expected birth date.

Paternity leave is available to fathers for the care of their newborn or newly adopted child. While it is part of the broader parental leave framework, it is commonly referred to as paternity leave when taken by fathers. This leave can last up to 62 weeks.

Can You Change Your Paternity Leave End Date?

Yes, you can change the start or end date of your paternity leave in Alberta. However, you must give your employer written notice at least four weeks before the original start or end date, and the total leave can’t exceed 62 weeks. While your employer may agree to the change, they are not obligated to do so.

Can You Be Forced to Take Paternity Leave?

No, an Alberta employer can’t force an employee to take paternity leave. Paternity leave is a right granted to eligible fathers, and it is up to the employee to decide whether or not to take the leave.

Employee Benefits During Paternity Leave

Fathers on paternity (or parental) leave in Alberta have the right to continue participating in certain benefit plans offered by their employer, such as pension plans, life insurance plans, and health and dental plans.

The specifics of benefit continuation during paternity leave can vary depending on the employer’s policies and the terms of the benefit plans.

What Happens to Your Seniority During Paternity Leave?

In Alberta, employees maintain their seniority status with their employer while on paternity leave. This means that the time spent on paternity leave is generally counted towards their length of service for the purposes of calculating benefits such as vacation entitlement, pension contributions, and other similar benefits based on length of service.

This rule ensures that employees do not lose their seniority rights while they are on leave to care for their newborn or newly adopted child.

Paternity leave is not considered a break in your employment. This means that if you are terminated or lose your job, your severance pay in Alberta will be calculated based on your total years of service, including any time spent on maternity or parental leave.

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Can You Be Penalized for Taking Paternity Leave?

No, you can’t be penalized for taking paternity leave in Alberta. The ESC protects your right to take paternity leave without fear of negative consequences. This means your employer can’t demote you, reduce your pay, or take any other punitive actions against you simply because you are taking paternity leave.

Such treatment is considered a human rights violation. If you believe you have been penalized for taking paternity leave, contact the team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP for a consultation.

Returning to Your Job After Paternity Leave Ends

When you return to work from paternity leave in Alberta, you have the right to the same job and position you held before taking leave. You must also receive the same pay, hours of work, benefits and responsibilities.

If your original job no longer exists, your employer must give you a comparable position with the same wages, work location, and benefits.

Changes to Your Job

In Alberta, it’s illegal for an employer to make significant changes to an employee’s job without their consent. These changes may include:

If the terms of your employment are impacted negatively in a serious way, you may be able to claim constructive dismissal through an experienced employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP. We can help you navigate your rights and pursue a full severance package – as much as 24 months’ pay.

Termination and Paternity Leave

In Alberta, it is illegal for an employer to terminate or fire an employee because they are on paternity leave. For more information about your rights and when you might have grounds for a wrongful dismissal claim, read our detailed resource on being fired during maternity or parental leave in Alberta.

Your Rights

If you’ve been fired without cause or allegedly for cause, it’s crucial to understand your rights through a consultation with an Alberta employment lawyer at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP immediately.

Do not accept any severance offer, termination papers, or exit agreement from your employer, even if they come with a deadline. These deadlines are pressure tactics used to push you into accepting inadequate compensation. Once you sign and return these documents, you forfeit your ability to negotiate a fair and proper severance package.

Calculating Severance

Calculating a severance package in Alberta involves multiple factors, including:

  • Age
  • Length of service
  • Position at the company
  • Commission
  • Benefits
  • Ability to find similar work

To figure out how much compensation you should receive, use our firm’s free Severance Pay Calculator. It has helped millions of Canadians determine their entitlements.

If your company’s offer falls short of what our Severance Pay Calculator says you are owed, it’s very likely that you have been wrongfully dismissed and should take legal action. In Alberta, your severance package can be as much as 24 months’ pay.

Talk To an Employment Lawyer

The knowledgeable employment law team at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP has helped tens of thousands of non-unionized individuals across the country.

In addition to severance package negotiations, we have experience securing solutions for the following employment matters:

Our lawyers in Alberta, B.C., and Ontario stand ready to help you solve your workplace issues.

If you are a non-unionized employee who needs help with an employment issue, contact us or call 1-855-821-5900 to get the advice you need, and the compensation you deserve.

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