Termination During Maternity Leave

Under Canadian human rights law, maternity leave is a protected term of time off (15 weeks) for pregnant/new mothers. Combined with parental leave (37 weeks), new parents are entitled to a shared total of 52 weeks of leave.

Labour law also stipulates that an employee cannot be laid off or have her employment terminated due to pregnancy, regardless of how long the employee has been under employ. These conditions are protected under human rights legislation.

Your employer cannot dismiss you if you are entitled to maternity leave or parental leave, nor can it fire you during the leave.

Maternity and workplace rights

Eligibility for maternity leave is calculated on the amount of time you have been employed by your current employer, usually 52 weeks of total time. This applies for both part-time and full-time employees.

Maternity leave may begin up to 12 weeks prior to the estimated due date. Reasonable notice must be provided. If pregnancy interferes with an employee’s work, an employer can request that the employee start leave. Similarly, there are requirements for employees who wish to end or extend their leave*.

Unjust termination on maternity leave

Upon returning from leave your employer must offer you:

  • Either a return to your former position, or;
  • A comparable position with earnings and other benefits at least equal to those received before the leave began.

If your employer terminates your position during leave or violates these or other applicable conditions, you may have grounds for redress.

Contact our Edmonton employment lawyers and take action today

If you suspect you may have been wrongfully dismissed because of pregnancy or your employer neglects to provide adequate leave/job protection, your rights under human rights legislation may have been violated. Contact the Lypkie Henderson Employment Law office to arrange a consultation.

*For more information on the rights and responsibilities of employees taking maternity leave, refer to the Employment Standards Act.