Frequently Asked Questions - Pregnancy / Parental Leave

General leave questions  

When do I need to start my leave?

Birth mothers must begin their maternity leave no later than the expected delivery date of the baby or actual birth date of the baby, whichever is earliest. Your leave may begin as early as 17 weeks before your expected delivery date. Parental leave must immediately follow maternity leave for birth mothers.

Other parents must begin their leave no later than 52 weeks (for employees taking the standard leave) or 78 weeks (for employees taking the extended leave) after the day the child is born or comes into the employee’s custody, care and control for the first time.

How do I notify Human Resources of my leave and how much notice is required?

Submit an absence request on Workday, select Pregnancy/Parental/Adoption or Parental time off plan>in the Type field and attach a certificate (note) from a medical practitioner (which may include a medical doctor, a midwife, or a nurse practitioner) stating the baby’s due date or a copy of the birth certificate. Please submit this request two weeks before the start date of your leave. Two months notice is preferred, to facilitate planning in the employee’s unit.

Union employees only: Complete a Pregnancy/Parental Leave Request form (PDF) and attach a certificate (note) from a medical practitioner (which may include a medical doctor, a midwife, or a nurse practitioner) stating the baby’s due date or a copy of the birth certificate and submit to your manager for approval. Your Manager is required to forward your approved leave request to Human Resources a minimum of two weeks before the start date of your leave. Two months notice is preferred.

*Birth mothers taking pregnancy and parental leave only need to submit one leave request.

I am planning my leave. What are the steps I need to take?

There is lots to think about when considering a pregnancy or parental leave. A Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including adoption) Checklist has been created to make the transition as smooth as possible and to help both the employee and manager plan ahead. As some of these activities require actions from both parties, you should meet as early as possible to review each step and allow time to plan accordingly. If you require additional assistance, please contact Human Resources at extension 45935 or via email at hrhelp@uwaterloo.ca.

Can I return to work earlier than the date I originally indicated?

An employee on pregnancy or parental leave may return to work earlier than planned by providing written notice to their manager and human resources at least four weeks prior to the new return date.

A birth mother who wishes to return to work earlier than six weeks following the birth of her child must have the written approval of her physician.

Human Resources will adjust your leave dates in Workday; review your absence dates are correct.

Can I extend my leave for a longer period than I originally indicated?

An employee on pregnancy or parental leave may extend their leave dates to the maximum time permitted under the Employment Standards Act by providing written notice to their manager and Human Resources at least four weeks prior to the new return date.

To alter your leave date up to the maximum time permitted under the ESA, please contact Human Resources by email to hrhelp@uwaterloo.ca.

If you would like to take additional unpaid leave time after you have reached the maximum leave permitted under the ESA, this must be discussed and approved by your manager at least four weeks prior to the initial return to work date. For staff, please refer to Policy 39 and complete a Staff Leave of Absence Request form (PDF). For Faculty, please refer to Policy 3 and complete a Sabbatical Application or Request for Leave of Absence (DOC). Submit completed paperwork to HR, East Campus One (EC1), or email to hrhelp@uwaterloo.ca.

What do I need to do to start my employment insurance (EI) benefits?

Apply for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits online or in person at your nearest Service Canada location once you have stopped working. Service Canada requires a Record of Employment (ROE) to process your EI application (issued electronically directly to Service Canada by the Human Resources department within 5 business days from your last day worked). Employees can begin their EI application before their ROE is issued but Service Canada will not process their claim and begin their benefits until the ROE is received.

Your EI benefits will then be assessed by Service Canada based on your individual situation. The maximum coverage provided is 52 weeks for the standard leave option of 78 weeks for the extended leave option.

Can I work while receiving employment insurance (EI) benefits?

Working while receiving EI benefits may have an impact on the payments you’re eligible to receive. Information about working while receiving EI benefits can be accessed through the Service Canada website.

How does Service Canada determine how a parental leave can be shared between both parents?

Please refer to Government of Canada's website - Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits for information on how a parental leave can be shared.

As of March 17, 2019, the Government of Canada announced a new Parental Sharing Benefit. Parents can receive extra weeks of Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits so that they can share the joy and work of raising their children more equally.

Will my University of Waterloo supplementary benefits be affected if I work while on pregnancy or parental leave?

Yes. Any earnings from the University for work performed while on leave will reduce your top-up benefits accordingly.

What happens if I do not return to work following my leave?

Employees who have not reached five years of employment and voluntarily terminate their employment with the University may be required to repay some or all of their supplemental parental benefits. The repayment amount depends on the difference or shortfall between the expected years of employment utilized for supplemental benefit period determination and the actual period of employment at the time of voluntary employment termination. Please refer to Policy 14 (Table A-1) for more information.

If you do not intend to return to work after your leave please contact Human Resources at hrhelp@uwaterloo.ca or extension 45935 for guidance.

What happens to my benefits and pension during my leave?

If you are receiving supplemental maternity or parental benefits, your benefit premiums (i.e. Long Term Disability, Life Insurance, Extended Health, Dental) and pension contributions will continue to be deducted from the payments you are receiving. If your leave extends beyond your top-up benefit period, you must continue participating in our plans, unless equivalent coverage is demonstrated. Employees who choose not to contribute to the Pension Plan during the unpaid portion of their leave will not accrue full pension service credits, resulting in a lower pension at retirement. Please note that lost pension service may not be contributed in the future.

If you have chosen not to participate in your pension plan and/or have alternative benefits coverage; please consult Human Resources for guidance at hrhelp@uwaterloo.ca.

You will be required to cover your share of benefit premiums and pension contributions for the period of your leave where you are not receiving any payments through the University by setting up a pre-authorized debit agreement or submitting post-dated cheques. Human Resources will send you a letter with the details in the month prior to the start of your leave.

You can review your current benefit and pension costs on your pay statement online. For information on how to view your pay statement, please visit the pay statement guide in the Payroll section of the HR website.

Questions related to Policy 14 changes

I am currently on parental leave (pre-April 6, 2021). Does the new policy apply to me retroactively?

If your leave started before April 6, 2021 then the old policy provisions still apply. The new policy only applies to eligible employees who begin a new leave on or after April 6, 2021.

My pregnancy leave began before the new policy was implemented; however, my parental leave occurs after the new policy was approved. Will the new Policy 14 therefore apply to my parental leave?

The new policy applies to employees who are starting a new leave on or after April 6, 2021. Maternity and parental leaves are considered a combined leave of absence (one leave) Therefore, the new policy provisions do not apply to the parental portion of your leave.

Who is eligible for Policy 14?

All employees in a regular ongoing role (no contract end date) or employees in a temporary role (must have completed the minimum waiting period of 12 months, prior to the commencement of their leave), who are working a minimum of 33% full-time equivalency (e.g., FT position is regularly 35 hours per week, but the employee is PT and works 12 hours per week, which is equal to 33% full-time equivalency). Students and Casual employees are not eligible.

Do partial years of employment at the University of Waterloo count towards determining eligibility?

Partial years of service will count towards determining years of service. The time worked is cumulative as stated in Policy 14: “ In determining the total period of employment for the eligibility category, separate periods of employment will be added together provided the appointment intensities were all at least 33% and the time between employment periods was less than 26 weeks.” The policy further states “Leaves of absence (e.g., sick leave, long-term disability, an unpaid leave of absence or any legislated leave of absence) occurring during a period of employment are counted as part of that single period of employment.” For more information, please consult Policy 14. Periods of employment as a student or casual employee are excluded from the years of service calculation.

How is employment service calculated when determining supplemental benefit eligibility?

Separate periods of employment (excluding employment as a student or casual employee) will be added together provided the appointment intensities were all at least 33% full-time equivalency (FTE) which is equal to a minimum of 12 hours per week (based on 35-hour standard workweek) and the time between employment periods was less than 26 weeks. Leaves of absence (e.g., sick leave, long-term disability, an unpaid leave of absence, or any legislated leave of absence) occurring during a period of employment are counted as part of that single period of employment.

Where are University of Waterloo supplemental benefits charged to?

Typically, Waterloo supplemental maternity and parental benefits are centrally funded so the ongoing salary budget for the position is maintained. For employees, such as Researchers, who are funded outside the operating budget, their department would need to discuss with the Office of Research and determine where to charge the supplemental benefits to, if it's not allowed to be charged to the research grant their salary is paid from.

How much top up can I receive?

Eligible birth mothers can receive up to 35 weeks of University of Waterloo Supplemental benefits. This period includes: 15 weeks of UW supplemental maternity benefits (first 8 weeks at 100% top-up and the remaining 7 at 95%) and up to 20 weeks of UW supplemental parental benefits.

Eligible non-birth parents can receive up to 20 weeks of UW supplemental parental benefits (95% top-up).

When will my top up period end?

Eligible birth mothers can receive up to 35 weeks of University of Waterloo Supplemental benefits. This period includes: 15 weeks of UW supplemental maternity benefits (first 8 weeks at 100% top-up and the remaining 7 at 95%) and up to 20 weeks of UW supplemental parental benefits.

Eligible non-birth parents can receive up to 20 weeks of UW supplemental parental benefits (95% top-up).