Quebec's paternity and parental leave regime for fathers is
the most generous of its kind in Canada. In 2006, the Quebec
Parental Insurance Plan replaced the federal Employment
Insurance Parental Benefits Program. Fathers in Quebec are
taking advantage of these leaves in growing numbers, and we have
recently become aware that employers are being affected more and
more by this. In order to coordinate such leaves, it is important
that employers with employees or operations in Quebec keep
themselves well informed of both their obligations and their
Employee Entitlements to Paternity Leave
The employer's obligations with regards to paternity and
parental leaves are contained in the Act Respecting Labour
Standards. These provisions apply to all employees, including
senior managerial personnel. Partners of lesbian mothers can also
avail themselves of leaves that are designated for fathers. Fathers
are entitled to up to five weeks of paternity leave without
pay by providing three weeks' written notice to their
employers prior to the beginning of the leave, indicating the
expected leave date and date of return to work.
Employee Entitlements to Parental Leave
In addition to paternity leave, fathers are also entitled to the
same parental leave of fifty-two consecutive weeks without
pay as mothers. Three weeks' notice must be sent to
both employers and governmental benefits must be divided between
both parents. Employers should be aware that the law does not
require written notice. However, employers should request their
employees record their return dates in writing, since an employee
who does not return to work on the indicated date is presumed to
As stated above, paternity and parental leaves are granted
without pay by the employer. Benefits are governed by the
Québec Parental Insurance Plan, which provides two
schemes (the basic plan and the particular plan), and fathers can
choose which plan suits them better. It should be noted that
paternity leave is exclusive to fathers while parental leave is
shared between the parents.
Employer Obligations When Employee Returns to Work
Upon return from paternity or parental leaves, the employer must
reinstate the employee in his former position with the same
benefits, including the wages to which he would have been entitled
to had he remained at work. If the employee's position no
longer exists upon his return, the employer must recognize all the
rights and privileges to which the employee would have been
entitled, had he been at work at the time the position ceased to
exist. For example, in an unionized work environment, an employer
confronted with such a situation needs to make sure the collective
agreement is respected. Furthermore, the employee's
participation in any group insurance or pension plan should not be
affected during his leave and respective contributions from the
employer and employee should be continued.
Managing the paternity and parental leaves of several employees
during the same period can be difficult for employers but,
ultimately, the employer must comply with the law's
requirements. However, certain arrangements can be entered into
jointly by the employer and the employee to help make the
coordination and transition involved with such leaves easier for
the business, on the condition that the employee agrees to such
Some examples of options that may be available to the employee
Temporarily suspending benefits in order to return to work for a
certain period of time, after which the employee can use the
remainder of the leave entitlement;
Returning to work on a part-time basis; and
Working an amount that is up to 25% of the value of the
benefits' weekly payment during the leave, without any
reduction in such benefits.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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