Legal Obligations for Employers and Maternity/Parental Leave

It is important for employers to understand their obligations when it comes to maternity or parental leave, as well as accommodation of pregnant employees.   These obligations are established by the Employment Standards Act and the Human Rights Code.

Approaching an employer to discuss maternity/paternal leave can be a very anxiety ridden exercise for employees as there may be a corresponding negative impact to productivity in the workplace, regardless of whether or not the employer is supportive of the employee or not.  This is why it’s important to communicate openly and effectively with the employee what they should expect prior to their leave, any changes that occur within the workplace that would affect their position when they are on leave, and their return to work and any accommodations they might need in light of their pregnancy and/or childcare obligations.

If an employer is required to restructure their business in such a way that would affect an employee who is on maternity/parental leave, whether it be with respect to their duties or general operations, and it is in no way related to that maternity/parental leave, they are entitled to do so.  Employers are also entitled to terminate employees while on maternity/parental leave, but again only if the termination in no way relates to the maternity/parental leave.

Avoiding Legal Claims Relating to Maternity/Parental Leave

Employers should be aware that even legitimate changes to an employee’s duties while they are on maternity/paternal leave can often result in claims and whether or not they will be successful in the long run does not negate the legal fees incurred in fighting them.  It’s always important to consider the law and the optics involved in dealing with employees on maternity/paternal leave.  

If you are an employer dealing with issues relating to employees on maternity/parental leave and have questions contact the lawyers at Taylor & Blair LLP today for a consultation.