Policy 14 – Pregnancy and Parental Leaves (including Adoption)

Established:​ April 1, 1986

Last updated:​ February 15, 2006

​Class:​ FS


Employees who anticipate applying for leave under this policy should discuss plans with their department Chair/Head at least three months prior to expected date of birth or as soon as possible in case of adoption and should contact Human Resources for advice and assistance concerning this policy and Employment Standards regulations. Human Resources will provide all necessary information and forms.


In addition to statutory benefits provided under the Employment Standards and Employment Insurance Acts with respect to pregnancy, adoption and parental leaves, as summarized in Appendix A, UW provides supplementary benefits so that an employee's salary, together with Employment Insurance (EI), amounts to 95% of her/his salary earned immediately before the leave. To be eligible, an employee must:

  • Be a regular full- or part-time UW employee for at least six months before the expected birth or adoption date, with an expected appointment duration of two years or more. In the case of definite-term appointments, the appointment duration must extend at least six months after the return to work from the pregnancy, adoption or parental leave.
  • Declare in writing (through Pregnancy/Adoption/Parental Leave form 1311-12) the intention to return to work for at least six months. The form should be submitted at least three months prior to the expected date of birth or as soon as possible in the case of adoption.

An employee who wishes to return to work earlier than six weeks after giving birth must have the written approval of her physician.

Employees who voluntarily leave UW during the six-month period following the leave will be required to repay the supplementary payments. Birth mothers who voluntarily leave UW during the six-month period following the leave retain the first six weeks of supplementary payments, but must repay the remaining 17 weeks to UW, because the first six weeks following the birth are considered birth leave. Employees who do not intend to return to work after the birth should contact Human Resources regarding their statutory benefits. An employee on pregnancy, adoption or parental leave may return to work earlier than planned provided at least four weeks' written notice is given.

UW supplementary payments are made only when EI benefits are payable. It is the employee's responsibility to apply for EI benefits. Because an employee must provide EI Benefit Statement as proof, UW supplementary payments may have to be retroactive.


Pregnancy, adoption or parental leaves reduce the time available to prepare for tenure consideration. Therefore, the probationary period and the time to tenure decision will be extended by one year on request to the Dean. The maximum extension is one year for each such leave during the probationary period.

Sabbatical leave credit, including credit for teaching terms, will be earned during each pregnancy, adoption or parental leave. If such a leave begins during a sabbatical leave, the missed portion of the sabbatical will be rescheduled within the next three years in consultation with the department Chair and Dean. It will not overlap with a regularly scheduled non-teaching term.

A faculty member returning from pregnancy, adoption or parental leave should be required to teach in no more than two of the ensuing three terms (see, also, Policy 77). Teaching duties will be reduced in proportion to the length of each pregnancy, adoption or parental leave. For instance, a six-month leave would imply a reduction in teaching duties equivalent to 50% of the faculty member's annual teaching load. The actual sequence of teaching and research terms will depend on individual circumstances, and will be determined in consultation with the Chair and Dean. During these discussions, the overall impact of the leave and reduced teaching load on total research time and sabbatical duty cycles should be addressed.


Employees' salaries normally will not be affected by the length of pregnancy, adoption or parental leave. Overall on-the-job performance will be the basis for these considerations. Over the 12-month rating period, where there are fewer than eight months on-the-job performance to assess, the salary increase of an employee will normally be based on the average of her/his overall performance ratings in the three previous years (or the number of years available when fewer than three, with a 'satisfactory' rating applied as necessary for new employees).

Employees will continue to accrue vacation credits while on leave, provided employees comply with the vacation policy which currently requires a return of at least one month after the leave. Where possible, outstanding vacation credits should be taken prior to the beginning of the leave.


While receiving a UW supplementary payment pregnancy, adoption or parental leave, employees must continue their UW benefits on the same basis as immediately preceding the pregnancy or adoption.

However, as is the case with an unpaid leave, if the leave continues when the UW supplementary ends, insured benefits must continue (unless equivalent coverage is demonstrated) while pension plan participation is optional. Employees who choose not to contribute to the Pension Plan during this portion of their leave will not accrue full pension plan service credits, thereby reducing pension accrual.

Payment of employee pension and benefit contributions during a period when not receiving supplementary payments must be arranged with Human Resources. Absence from work during pregnancy caused by verifiable medical problems is considered sick leave.


Employees have the right to regular pregnancy, adoption or parental leaves as described in this policy. Alternative leave arrangements (e.g., when an employee wishes to continue working in order to complete a project) must be in the best interests of both the employee and the University and must be approved by the Vice-President, Academic & Provost. Employees considering alternative arrangements should consult Human Resources regarding EI benefits eligibility.

Employees who wish additional unpaid leave beyond an authorized pregnancy, adoption or parental leave may apply under Policy #3 for faculty or #39 for staff.




Employment Standards Act

Employment Insurance (EI) Act

UW Benefits


13 weeks employment prior to the expected due date

600 insurable hours in the past year plus two-week waiting period

Six months of regular ongoing UW employment and eligible for EI benefits

Pregnancy Leave:

17 week pregnancy leave (unpaid)

15 weeks of pregnancy benefits at 55% of salary to the maximum weekly EI benefit (birth mother only)

100% salary for 6 weeks birth leave

Birth mothers may take up to an additional 11 weeks at 95% salary integrated with EI benefits. They would then be entitled to additional weeks of parental leave (to a total of 17 weeks at 95%, see below)

Parental Leave:
(including adoptive or birth parents)

37 week parental leave (unpaid) for parent not taking a pregnancy leave, including same-sex partners

35 week parental leave (unpaid for birth mother)

35 weeks of parental benefits at 55% of salary to the maximum weekly EI benefit*

95% salary for 17 weeks integrated with EI benefits.

If both parents work at UW, they may share the maximum 17 weeks of top-up, providing both parents are claiming EI benefits

Parent not taking a pregnancy leave (UW employee), has a choice of receiving 10 paid days around the time of the birth or sharing a portion of the EI parental leave. If the latter is chosen, UW will provide him or her with 95% salary for up to 17 weeks integrated with EI**

*Parents can share the 35-week EI parental benefit, but only one two-week waiting period must be satisfied for the family. Total EI benefits payable will not exceed 50 weeks for the family. EI parental benefits are available within 52 weeks following the child's birth, or for adoptive parents from the date the child arrives home. Birth mothers must take the parental leave immediately following the pregnancy leave. During parental leave, EI is not affected by earnings unless the earnings during the leave are in excess of the greater of $50 per week or 25% of the weekly parental leave benefit. Any earnings from UW during adoption leave will reduce the UW supplementary benefit accordingly.

**10 paid work days of leave around time of birth of child for parent not taking parental leave. Such leaves must be discussed with the employee's immediate supervisor normally at least 3 months before the expected date of arrival of the child.

Faculty and staff members may use vacation credits, unpaid leave, lieu time and personal leave in order to be present at the birth and/or arrival home of the child.

Note: Employment Insurance (EI) requires the 17 weeks of pregnancy leave to be used before parental leave can be accessed. So, for birth mothers, it is really 6 weeks of birth leave (100% pay), 11 weeks of topped-up EI pregnancy leave and 6 weeks of topped-up EI parental leave. The latter 6 weeks of parental leave and a further EI leave of 29 weeks can be shared by the mother or father (partner). In the case of adoption, mother/father or partner can share up to 35 weeks of EI parental leave.

APPENDIX B: Examples

UW Supplementary Benefit: Examples of income for UW employees during leave

Birth Mothers:

  • 6 weeks at 100% salary for birth leave
  • 2 weeks of pregnancy leave at 95% salary (EI waiting period)
  • 15 weeks of pregnancy/parental leave at 95% integrated with EI
  • Additional 29 weeks of parental leave with EI benefits available

Birth Parent:

  • 17 weeks of parental leave at 95% integrated with EI
  • Additional 18 weeks of parental leave with EI benefits available

Adoptive Parent:

  • 2 weeks of parental leave at 95% salary (EI waiting period)
  • 15 weeks of parental leave at 95% integrated with EI 
  • Additional 18 weeks of parental leave EI benefits available 

Notes: Only one parent must satisfy EI waiting period. EI benefits have a total combined maximum of 50 weeks for birth or 35 weeks for adoption of child.

If both parents work at UW, they may share the maximum 17 weeks top-up, providing both parents are claiming EI benefits.

Parents are encouraged to contact the Benefits Coordinator in Human Resources as listed on the HR website at: https://uwaterloo.ca/human-resources/.