Q&A: Maternity Leave & Your Rights as an Employee in Ontario

Having a baby can be one of the most exciting things in life. Along with the excitement of the new family member, however, come many new challenges:

Will I go on maternity leave? How long can I take off work? Can I afford to be off work? What benefits and top-up can I get? Do I need accommodation at work during my pregnancy? How will I make the transition back into my job? 

These concerns put pressure on parents-to-be. Recognizing this, the following Q&A session tries to answer some common questions that employees may have about maternity leave and work.

Election 2015: An Employment Lawyer's View on Workplace Party Promises

The 2015 federal election is now less than a week away. Notable in the race so far (at least from our perspective) has been the prominence of workplace issues, and the corresponding employment law implications. Indeed, one of the most blistering exchanges in the first half of the campaign was with respect to the federal minimum wage.

This article aims to review a number of workplace-related election promises made to date by the three main parties. That said, this is by no means a comprehensive list of all party policies with respect to the workplace - rather, we have just highlighted a few of particular interest. For those interested, access to all three parties' platforms can be found here.

Is one year paid parental leave the new norm?

On Tuesday, August 4 - the same day that Netflix stock hit a record high, the company announced a decision through its blog to provide paid maternity and paternity leave for its employees, up to one year. Netflix stated:

We're introducing an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads that allows them to take off as much time as they want during the first year after a child's birth or adoption. 

We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances. Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed.

The company's decision is ground-breaking in many ways. It also reflects the desire of many new parents, in the US and Canada, for flexibility to focus on nurturing their newborn without financial stress.

Pregnancy and Workplace Accommodation: The Botony Dental Case

In early 2015, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice released its decision in Partridge v. Botony Dental Corporation. This decision is a useful reminder both for employees as to their rights and employers as to their workplace obligations.

Ms. Partridge began work with Botony as a Dental Hygienist in March 2004 and was promoted to Office Manager in 2007. She was employed with the company for just over seven years prior to dismissal on July 19, 2011. During the tenure of her employment, Ms. Partridge twice took maternity leave: from June 2007 – July 2008; and again from June 2010 – July 2011.