What the Act says

The Act respecting labour standards contains provisions concerning maternity leaves that protect the majority of pregnant workers, whether they are full or part time.

In Québec, pregnant employees are entitled to a maternity leave without pay of a maximum duration of 18 continuous weeks. The parental leave may be added to the maternity leave.

The employee may spread the maternity leave before or after the date of delivery as she wishes. The employer may agree to a longer maternity leave if the employee requests it.

The maternity leave may not begin before the 16th week preceding the expected date of delivery and shall end not later than 18 weeks afterwards. If the leave begins at the time of delivery, the week of delivery is not included in the calculation.

From the 6th week before delivery, the employer may require, in writing, a medical certificate stating that the employee is fit to work. If the employee does not provide the certificate within 8 days, the employer may, once again by written notice, oblige the employee to take her maternity leave.

Québec Parental Insurance Plan

Under the Québec Parental Insurance Plan, benefits are paid to support the income of a female employee who is absent from work after the birth or adoption of a child. To learn more, get in touch with a representative of the Centre de service à la clientèle of the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale at 1-888-610-7727.

It is also possible to apply for benefits on the Internet.

Following agreement with the employer, the leave may be:

  • suspended, if the employee’s child is hospitalized and a temporary return to work is possible
  • extended, if the health of the child or the mother requires it.
    The employee must then provide a medical opinion from the physician before the end of the initial leave.

In certain very specific cases, at the request of the employee, the leave may be divided into weeks if her child is hospitalized or if the employee is absent because she herself or one of her close relatives is sick, as stipulated in sections 79.1 and 79.8 of the Act respecting labour standards.

If the delivery occurs after the expected date, the employee is entitled to at least two weeks of maternity leave afterwards.

If the employee continues to make contributions to the various group insurance and pension plans during her leave, the employer must do likewise. If the employer does not, he is liable to legal proceedings as this constitutes a reprisal within the meaning of the Act.

Absences during pregnancy

An employee may be absent, without pay, as often as is necessary, for examinations related to her pregnancy. She must notify her employer of such absences as soon as possible.

Special maternity leave

An employee is entitled to a special maternity leave, without pay, when there is a risk of termination of her pregnancy or a danger for the health of the mother or unborn child caused by the pregnancy. The employee must provide a medical certificate attesting to the danger and indicating the length of the leave and the expected date of delivery. In such a case, the regular maternity leave begins 4 weeks before the expected date of delivery.

Termination of pregnancy

When a termination of pregnancy occurs before the start of the 20th week preceding the expected date of delivery, the leave is for a maximum duration of 3 weeks, except where a medical certificate attests to the need to extend the leave.

As for a termination of pregnancy occurring from the 20th week on, the female employee is entitled to a maternity leave without pay of not more than 18 continuous weeks from the week of the event. The employee shall notify her employer as soon as possible and provide him with a written notice indicating the expected date of return to work. This notice must be accompanied with a medical certificate.

Written notices from the employee to her employer

The employee must give her employer, 3 weeks before leaving, a written notice mentioning the date when she is going on maternity leave and that of her return to work. The time period may be shorter if her state of health obliges her to leave sooner. She must then provide a medical certificate attesting to the reasons that oblige her to leave work.

The notice must always be accompanied with a medical certificate attesting to the pregnancy and the expected date of delivery. A written report signed by a mid-wife can replace the medical certificate.

In case of termination of pregnancy or premature delivery, the employee must, as soon as possible, give her employer a written notice informing him of the event that has occurred and of the expected date of her return to work, along with a medical certificate attesting to the event.

Return to work

At the end of the maternity leave, the employer must reinstate the employee in her former position and give her the wages and the benefits to which she would have been entitled had she remained at work.

If her position has been abolished, the employee retains the same rights and privileges that she would have enjoyed had she remained at work.

However, these provisions must not give the employee an advantage that she would not have enjoyed had she remained at work.

The employee may return to work before the date mentioned in the notice that she gave her employer before leaving. She must send the employer, 3 weeks ahead of time, a new notice indicating the date of her return.

An employee who does not return to work on the stipulated date is considered to have quit her job.

If the employee wishes to return to work less than 2 weeks after the delivery, the employer may require a medical certificate attesting that she is fit to work.

Can the employee return to work sooner than planned after a maternity leave?

Yes. She can return sooner, after having given written notice of at least 3 weeks before the new date of her return to work.

Vacation

An absence for a maternity leave during the reference year does not reduce the length of an employee’s vacation. The employee is entitled to an indemnity that is equal, depending on her length of uninterrupted service, to 2 or 3 times the weekly average of the wages earned during the reference year. It should be noted that the employee does not accumulate vacation pay while on parental leave.

indemnity
Sum of money paid to the employee either to compensate for prejudice or to compensate for a leave or certain disadvantages.

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Calculate the indemnity

The Commission des normes du travail puts at your disposal calculation tools which help establish the amounts to which an employee is entitled.

The calculation of the indemnity is different according to the employee’s remuneration method.

Calculation tools for the indemnity for an:

Protective re-assignment

The provisions concerning protective re-assignment are found in the Act respecting occupational health and safety. For more information, contact the office of the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) of your region.

protective re-assignment
Program administered by the CSST that allows a pregnant or nursing employee to ask that her employer assign her to other tasks which do not entail dangers and which she can accomplish. If the employer is unable to modify the employee's work station or offer her another task, the employee has the right to stop working temporarily.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Is a pregnant employee entitled to certain leaves?  
    In addition to the days off stipulated in the Act for all employees, a pregnant employee is entitled to the following leaves:

    • protective re-assignment, if the environment so requires (CSST)
    • special maternity leave, if her health or that of her unborn child is at risk and her physician decides that she must stop working
    • the 18-week maternity leave. If she is not already benefiting from protective re-assignment or a special maternity leave, she can decide to begin her maternity leave 16 weeks before the expected date of delivery
    • the 52-week parental leave.
  2. Can an employee postpone her return to work beyond the date stipulated in the notice that she gave her employer?
    No. The Act does not provide for extending a maternity leave beyond the date announced in the notice given to the employer. However, under his management right, the employer may, if he so desires, extend this leave.

    It should be noted that an employee who does not return to work on the date of return stipulated in the notice is assumed to have quit her job.

  3. Can an employee return to work sooner than expected after a maternity leave?
    Yes. She can return sooner, after having given a written notice of at least 3 weeks before the new date of her return to work.

  4. How is an employee’s vacation pay calculated after she returns from a maternity leave?
    If the employee worked during the reference year, a weekly average is established on the basis of the wages that she earned and this amount is multiplied by 2 or 3, according to the number of weeks to which she is entitled. It should be noted that no vacation pay is accumulated during the parental leave.

  5. When an employee returns from maternity leave, can an employer assign her to tasks that are different from those which she performed before leaving, can he change her schedule, reduce her hours or dismiss her because he prefers her replacement?
    No. At the end of a maternity leave, the employer must reinstate the employee in her former position. She retains the same rights that she had, including the wage to which she would have been entitled had she not been absent. This could include the wage increases that she would have benefitted from. If the former position no longer exists when she returns to work, she must benefit from all of the rights and privileges that existed beforehand, as if she had not been absent.

  6. Are senior managerial personnel and employees subject to the construction decree entitled to the maternity leave?
    Yes. Even though the major portion of the other provisions of the Act do not apply to them.

  7. Is an employee entitled to statutory holidays during her maternity leave?
    No. To be entitled to statutory holidays, the employee must not already be on leave.

Gouvernement du Québec

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