Vacation and Maternity/Parental Leave

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Vacations and vacation pay are legal rights to ensure that employees have a rest from work without loss of income.

Vacation Time

In Alberta, you are entitled to annual vacations, depending on how long you have worked:

  • after one year of employment, you are entitled to two weeks vacation with pay,
  • after five years, you are entitled to three weeks vacation with pay.

You must take your vacation within 12 months after you become entitled to the vacation.

Vacations must be given in one unbroken period unless you request to take your vacation in shorter periods. These periods must last at least one day long.

If a mutually acceptable time for your vacation cannot be found, the employer can decide on the time, but you must receive at least two weeks notice in writing of the start date of their vacation.

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Vacation Pay

If you are paid an hourly wage, vacation pay is:

  • 4 per cent of your wages for the first 4 years of employment
  • 6 per cent of your wages for the 5th and all subsequent years.

If you are paid a monthly salary, you are entitled to receive your regular rate of pay for your vacation time.

You are entitled to your vacation pay on the next regularly scheduled payday or at the request of the employee, at least one day before the vacation begins. Many employers simply add your vacation pay onto your regular paycheque.

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Maternity and Parental Leave

Workers in Alberta are entitled to up to one year of unpaid, job-protected leave for the birth of a child, and up to 37 weeks on the adoption of a child. This means that at the end of the leave you are entitled to your job or an equivalent one which has at least the same pay and benefits.

Birth mothers can take up to 52 consecutive weeks of unpaid job-protected leave, made up of 15 weeks of maternity leave and 37 weeks parental leave.

Fathers and/or adoptive parents are eligible for up to 37 consecutive weeks of unpaid, job-protected parental leave.

Parental leave may be taken by one parent or shared between two parents but the total combined leave cannot exceed 37 weeks.

Adoptive parents can take parental leave no matter the age of the adopted child.

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To be eligible for maternity and/or parental leave, you must have 52 consecutive weeks of employment with their employer, whether they are full-time or part-time employees.

Maternity leave can begin at any time within 12 weeks of the estimated date of delivery.

Parental leave can begin at any time after the birth or adoption of the child but it must be completed within 52 weeks of the date a baby is born or an adopted child is placed with the parent.

The following conditions apply to maternity and/or paternal leave:

  • During the twelve weeks before the estimated date of delivery, the employer can require the employee to start maternity leave if the pregnancy is interfering with job performance. The employee must be notified in writing.
  • An employee, who takes both maternity leave and parental leave, must take the leaves consecutively.
  • An employee must take at least six weeks of maternity leave after the birth of her child, unless the employee provides a medical certificate indicating that resumption of work is not a health risk.
  • If both parents work for the same employer, the employer is not required to grant leave to both employees at the same time.
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Giving Notice

You must give the employer at least six weeks written notice about when you intend to start maternity leave or parental leave. The employer may demand a medical certificate certifying pregnancy and giving the estimated date of delivery.

If the employee fails to give the necessary notice she is still entitled to maternity leave if she notifies the employer within 2 weeks of her last day at work and provides a medical certificate.

An employee who takes maternity leave is not required to give her employer notice before going on parental leave, unless she originally agreed only to take 15 weeks of maternity leave.

Parents will still be eligible for the leave if medical reasons, or circumstances related to the adoption, prevent the employee from giving this notice. When this happens, written notice must be given to the employer as soon as possible.

If you intend to share parental leave with your partner, you must advise your respective employers of their intention to do so.

You must give at least four weeks written notice that you intend to return to work or to change the return date. This notice must be provided at least four weeks before the end of the leave. An employer does not have to reinstate an employee until four weeks after receipt of this notice.

If you fail to provide this notice, or fail to report to work the day after the leave ends, the employer is under no obligation to reinstate you unless the failure is the result of unforeseen or unpreventable circumstances.

You are also required to provide four weeks written notice if you do not intend to return to work after the leave ends.

Employers may choose to extend leave beyond 52 weeks, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.

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Employer Obligations

An employer cannot terminate an employee on maternity or parental leave, unless the employer suspends or discontinues the business.

Employees returning from maternity or parental leave must be reinstated in the same or a comparable position with earnings and other benefits at least equal to those received when the leave began.

If the business has been suspended or discontinued during the employee's maternity or parental leave, the employee has hiring priority if the business starts up again within 12 months after the end of the leave.

Human rights legislation also imposes certain obligations regarding the duty to accommodate pregnant employees and with respect to the application of sick leave provisions.

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