FAQs: Pregnancy and Maternity Leave

How much maternity leave am I entitled to?

You are entitled to up to 17 weeks of maternity leave and up to 61 weeks of parental leave. These maximums can be extended for special circumstances, and BC’s Employment Standards Act has rules for start and end dates.

How long do I have to be employed before I can take maternity leave?

You can take maternity and parental leave regardless of how long you have been employed.

Does my employer have to give me my job back after my maternity leave ends?

Your employer is prohibited from firing you because you are pregnant or take maternity or parental leave.Under the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA), as soon as your leave ends, your employer must place you in the position you held before you went on leave, or in a comparable position, unless the employer’s operations have been suspended or discontinued. (Note that some employees working in British Columbia are not subject to the ESA; if you are uncertain whether the ESA applies to you, consult the Employment Standards Branch or an employment law lawyer.)

Can my employer fire me while I’m on maternity leave?

An employer may not fire an employee or change a condition of their employment because they are pregnant, or for taking maternity/parental leave under the BC Employment Standards Act.

Under section 13 of the BC Human Rights Code, an employer may not discriminate against you on the basis of “sex”, unless there is a bona fide occupational requirement which justifies the discrimination, or unless accommodating you would create undue hardship for the employer. Sex discrimination includes both discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, and failing to allow a woman to return to work at the conclusion of her maternity/parental leave.