Maternity, Parental & Adoptive Leave

Becoming a parent is a major event. Under the BC Employment Standards Act, the following unpaid leaves are available:

  • Birth Mothers: an unpaid maternity leave of up to 17 weeks, if you are the birth mother, which can be combined with an unpaid parental leave of up to 35 weeks to extend your total time off work,
  • Birth Fathers: an unpaid parental leave of up to 37 weeks if you are the birth father,
  • Adopting Parents: an unpaid adoption leave of up to 37 weeks for an adopting parent, and from UBC a pre-placement adoption paid leave of up to 20 days, if you are an Administrative Executive, CUPE 116, CUPE 2278, CUPE 2950 or Management & Professional employee.

Maternity, parental and adoption leaves are unpaid. If you wish to take additional leave beyond what is stipulated under the BC Employment Standards Act, you must request this in writing from your supervisor and any additional approved leave will be considered a general unpaid leave.

When you apply for a maternity, parental or adoption leave, you can also apply for Employment Insurance (EI) maternity or parental benefits from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). EI benefits are administered by Service Canada.

If you meet EI’s eligibility rules for benefits, you will receive EI benefits if you are a birth mother, birth father or adopting parent.

Birth Mothers:

  • during maternity leave, the EI maternity payment is 55% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 15 weeks after a one week unpaid waiting period is served;
  • during parental leave, birth parents have a choice of standard EI parental benefits (55% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 35 weeks) OR extended EI parental benefits (33% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 61 weeks) after a one week waiting period is served (this is not required if the birth mother has already served the waiting period). Two parents may share the EI parental benefits and both parents are required to choose the same option, either standard or extended. You cannot change between options once parental benefits have been paid.
  • If you select the extended EI parental benefits option, you will need to request additional leave if you will take more than the 52 weeks that is available to you under the BC Employment Standards Act. Any approved additional leave will be considered general unpaid leave and you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the benefits and pension you choose to maintain.

Birth Fathers:

  • during parental leave, birth parents have a choice of standard EI parental benefits (55% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 35 weeks) OR extended EI parental benefits (33% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 61 weeks) after a one week waiting period is served (this is not required if the birth mother has already served the waiting period). Two parents may share the EI parental benefits and both parents are required to choose the same option, either standard or extended. You cannot change between options once parental benefits have been paid.
  • If you select the extended EI parental benefits option, you will need to request additional leave if you will take more than the 37 weeks that is available to you under the BC Employment Standards Act. Any approved additional leave will be considered general unpaid leave and you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the benefits and pension you choose to maintain.

Adopting Parents:

  • during adoption leave, adopting parents have a choice of standard EI parental benefits (55% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 35 weeks) OR extended EI parental benefits (33% of your pre-leave earnings up to a specific maximum amount for 61 weeks) after a one week waiting period is served (only one parent is required to serve the waiting period). Two parents may share the EI parental benefits and both parents are required to choose the same option, either standard or extended. You cannot change between options once parental benefits have been paid.
  • If you select the extended EI parental benefits option, you will need to request additional leave if you will take more than the 37 weeks that is available to you under the BC Employment Standards Act. Any approved additional leave will be considered general unpaid leave and you will be responsible for paying the full cost of the benefits and pension you choose to maintain.

Some employee groups are also eligible for Supplementary Employment Benefits that can be used to top up your EI benefit payments to 75% or 95% of your pre-leave salary for a specified period of time.

If you are planning to take a maternity, parental or adoption leave, you will need to:

  • notify your supervisor of the start and end dates of your leave (please review the section below that applies specifically to your group for the number of weeks advance notice you are required to give),
  • apply for the EI maternity or parental benefit through Service Canada,
  • apply for Supplementary Employment Benefits if this benefit is available to your employee group, and
  • decide whether to maintain your benefit coverage and pension contributions. See Benefits Coverage while on a Leave for more information.

Learn more about maternity, parental and adoption leave and paid benefits during your leave

There are some differences between the plans for each of UBC’s employee groups, so please review the section that applies specifically to your group.