Pregnancy and parental leaves

Waterloo provides many of its employees with pregnancy and parental leaves and also with supplemental benefits during those leaves.

  • The leaves are job-protected, unpaid leaves of absence, during which you will probably collect Employment Insurance (EI).
  • Supplemental benefits are the top-up pay that the University provides to supplement your EI payments, to keep your total income closer to normal during your leave(s).

These leaves and benefits are provided under Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including Adoption), and the Return to Work (hence the short-form “P14 leaves” that you’ll see on this page). We cover the basics here as a starting point, but you will need to read the full policy to fully understand how your own leave(s) and benefits will work.

Policy 14 was overhauled recently; the new policy came into effect on April 6, 2021. Note: FAUW filed a grievance concerning eligibility for the new policy, and reached an agreement with the University in June 2022. The agreement extends the application of the revised Policy 14 to faculty members whose pregnancy leave of absence started on or after December 8, 2020, and before April 6, 2021 (and whose parental leave therefore started on or after April 6, 2021).

Where to find information

Who to talk to

  • FAUW's Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee, if you have any questions about the new policy, particularly about the temporary return to work and workload options.
  • Human Resources, for questions about what you’re entitled to and how to get started and to notify them of your leave (at least two weeks in advance).
  • Your chair/director, only to notify them about your leave in relation to teaching duties (preferably at least two months in advance).
  • The Office of Research, for information about how your leave affects a tri-agency research grant.
  • Your dean, if you have research continuity concerns (see section 15 of the policy).

What you need to know


For all P14 leaves and benefits, “parent” includes adoptive parents and anyone “who is in a relationship of some permanence with a parent of the child and who plans on treating the child as their own” (Policy 14, section 8).

Eligibility for leaves is separate from eligibility for supplemental benefits.

Eligibility for leaves

Any employee with two or more years of expected employment is eligible for UW’s pregnancy and parental leaves. Other employees (e.g. definite-term faculty on your first one-year contract) may be eligible for leaves under the Employment Standards Act (ESA).

Eligibility for supplemental benefits

Your eligibility category in Policy 14 determines the number of weeks of supplemental benefits you’re entitled to.

  • Category 1 – Employees holding a position without an end date (including probationary faculty).
    • Eligible for supplemental benefits with no waiting period.
  • Category 2 – Definite-term/contract employees with at least five years of expected employment (in combined past and current contracts).
    • Eligible for supplemental benefits with no waiting period.
  • Category 3 – Definite-term/contract employees with between two and five years of expected employment.
    • Eligible for supplemental benefits after a 12-month waiting period.
  • Category 4 – All other employees
    • Not eligible for supplemental benefits (but may be eligible for ESA leaves and Employment Insurance).

The rest of this page refers only to faculty in categories 1, 2, and 3.


If you’re in category 3, you must be employed at Waterloo for 12 months before you can begin collecting supplemental benefits. As soon as your waiting period is up, you begin collecting your supplemental benefits (even if your leave began earlier). This waiting period does not apply to your leaves, just your supplemental benefits.

The old policy required employees to work for at least six months before and six months after a P14 leave, which caused problems for definite-term faculty whose contracts didn’t have enough time left on them after the member intended to return to work.


This is a very simplified version of the policy. Please read the full policy to understand what you’re entitled to. We can also help you interpret it for your own situation.

Generally, for eligible faculty (those with at least two years of expected employment), your supplemental benefits amount to however much is needed to bring your income, including EI payments and benefits covered by an external funder, up to either 95% or 100% of your base pay, as noted below.

Birth parents

  • Pregnancy leave: Leave of absence of up to 17 weeks, including the case of late-term pregnancy loss.
  • Parental leave: Leave of absence of up to 61 weeks.
  • Maternity benefits: 15 weeks of supplemental benefits (8 weeks at 100% base pay, 7 at 95%); up to 8 weeks of supplemental benefits may be available following a late term pregnancy loss.
  • Parental benefits:
    • Category 1 and 2 employees: 20 weeks of supplemental benefits (topped up to 95% of your base pay).
    • Category 3 employees: 4 weeks for every year of expected employment, up to 20 weeks (minimum 17 weeks for all regular faculty*), topped up to 95% of your base pay.

Non-birth parents

  • Parental leave: Leave of absence of up to 63 weeks, beginning up to 78 weeks after the child is born or comes into your care.
  • Parental benefits:
    • Category 1 and 2 employees: 20 weeks of supplemental benefits topped up to 95% of your base pay.
    • Category 3 employees: 4 weeks for every year of expected employment, up to 20 weeks (minimum 17 weeks for all regular faculty*), topped up to 95% of your base pay.
    • Option to exchange three weeks of your supplemental benefits for an earlier, separate block of 10 days (at 100% pay) around the time of the birth, at your sole discretion.

*This is the exception to the principle of all employees being treated the same: To ensure that definite-term regular faculty maintain equal or higher benefit levels as in the previous version of the policy, they get a minimum of 17 weeks of parental leave top-up, regardless of years of employment, and even if they leave Waterloo after two-to-five years of employment. There are also differences in how returning to work is handled for faculty members and staff instructors, in relation to teaching and academic terms.


Birth parents: While you’re on pregnancy leave, you can request a temporary return to work, from four to 52 weeks long, between your pregnancy leave and your parental leave. Make sure you follow the procedure for this and submit your request at least four weeks in advance (16 weeks’ notice is required if you want to teach during your return to work). Otherwise, returning to work ends your leave.


  • You still accrue sabbatical credit based on your normal teaching load while you’re on leave.
  • Your leave doesn’t affect your vacation entitlement. You should try to use your vacation time before your leave, but if you don’t, unused vacation is carried forward to the next year.
  • Your pension contributions continue during the UW top-up period. You can opt out after that period, but think carefully about that, as that will reduce your pension accrual.
  • Tenure-track faculty taking any pregnancy leave or at least 16 weeks of parental leave can extend their probationary period (tenure clock) by one year. Birth parents taking both pregnancy and parental leaves for a total of 68 weeks or more have the option of a two-year extension. You just notify your dean to get this extension.
  • The Memorandum of Agreement explains what happens when there’s not enough evidence to evaluate performance in a given year. Talk to AF&T if you’re unsure about this.


  • Faculty not taking their maximum length leaves may be eligible for as low as a 50% temporary reduced workload of normal full-time faculty for a period of between 12-78 weeks. See Policy, section 14 for other requirements and restrictions associated with such an arrangement. Unlike the temporary return to work, eligible faculty can opt for this arrangement at their sole discretion. Members seeking a longer temporary reduced workload arrangement, see Policy 59, section 3.
  • Your annual teaching load is reduced based on the number of weeks of leave you take. It doesn’t matter how your leave(s) line up with academic terms, which helps to ensure an equitable reduction in teaching load (for example, if you take 12 weeks of parental leave all within one term and someone else takes 12 weeks overlapping two terms, you both get two terms with no teaching tasks assigned). See the table in section 13 of the policy for details.
  • If you teach in the first term following your leave, you have the option to only teach courses you’ve previously taught.
  • Unless you normally teach all three terms, faculty returning to work after a P14 leave won’t teach in more than two of the next three terms.


Your graduate students must be assigned an interim supervisor because you are not obligated to fulfill any supervision duties. However, no one can stop you from meeting with your grad students if you choose to do so.

Tri-Agency grant holders

Faculty members holding funds under the Tri-Agency Financial Guide (TAGFA), including NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR and CRC grants, may receive extensions of time (with supplement funds for NSERC Discovery Grants only). Grant recipients are responsible for informing the Office of Research of the extension request (see contacts below) and the Office of Research will submit the extension request to the relevant agency. 

Tri-Agency requirements for any faculty member going on a leave (Maternity/Parental/Medical leaves/Sabbatical or unpaid) are covered under the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration “Section 5 Provision of leaves from grant activities” requires faculty members to provide in writing to the Office of Research responses pertaining to the following requirements for continued access to their grant funds while on leave:

  • Acknowledgement that grant-funded research/activities continue;
  • Grant recipients demonstrate that their responsibilities continue to be met by either the grant recipient or a delegate (including trainee supervision); and
  • Grant recipients continue to meet agency-specific eligibility and program requirements while on leave

CRC Chairholders considering taking a leave should review the CRC Program guidelines and contact the Office of Research (see contact information below).


These Office of Research contacts can guide you through the required steps and resources available:


  • You receive EI and your UW supplemental benefits at the same time. There may be a waiting period for EI benefits.
  • EI maternity benefits are provided for up to 15 weeks.
  • EI parental benefits are shared between parents. You can choose between Standard Parental or Extended Parental benefits, for a combined total of either
    • 40 weeks @ 55% of your salary (max. 35 weeks per person), or
    • 69 weeks @ 33% of your salary (max. 61 weeks per person).