EXTENDED PARENTAL LEAVE AND ALLOWANCE
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1. What changes have been made to parental leave?
Under the previous Collective Agreement, lawyers are entitled to a single period of parental leave of up to 37 consecutive weeks during the 52-week period beginning on the date of birth or the date on which a child comes into a lawyer's care. There is no automatic right to extended parental leave under the previous Collective Agreement.

Lawyers who currently choose to extend their leave beyond 52 weeks must apply for leave without pay for care of family (caregiving leave) for up to 24 weeks following the end of their parental leave, dipping into their 5 year entitlement. This type of leave is unpaid and subject to operational requirements.

Under the new Collective Agreement, lawyers will have a choice, effective the date the provisions come into effect, between:

  • Standard Parental Leave: a single period of parental leave of up to 37 consecutive weeks during the 52-week period beginning on the date of birth or the date on which a child comes into a lawyer's care, OR
  • Extended Parental Leave: a single period of parental leave of up to 63 consecutive weeks during the 78-week period beginning on the date of birth or the date on which a child comes into a lawyer's care.

Requests for extended parental leave of 26 additional weeks of leave will no longer be subject to management discretion or operational requirements.

A lawyer who becomes pregnant will see no change to their 16 weeks of maternity leave entitlement.
You can find a summary chart of maternity and parental leaves and allowances here.

2. What changes have been made to the parental allowance?
Several changes have been made to the parental allowance provisions in the new Collective Agreement following amendments to the Employment Insurance Act which allow for extended EI parental benefits. These changes were intended to provide greater flexibility and certainty to lawyers without significantly increasing the overall cost of parental allowance top-ups for the employer. You can find more information about changes to the Employment Insurance Act, and the impact of these changes on maternity and parental benefits here.

Under the new Collective Agreement, lawyers not residing in Québec would have a choice between:

Standard Parental Benefits:

  • a lawyer who has chosen standard parental leave and who has chosen to receive standard EI parental benefits will be eligible to receive 93% of their weekly rate of pay for the waiting period, less any other monies earned,
  • for each week that a lawyer receives EI parental benefits, they will be eligible for a top-up of the difference between 93% of their weekly rate of pay and their EI benefits, less any other monies earned, AND
  • where a lawyer has received either the full 35 weeks of standard EI parental benefits or has divided the full 40 weeks of standard EI parental benefits and either employee remains on parental leave without pay, the lawyer is eligible to receive a further parental allowance of 93% of their weekly rate of pay and their EI benefits, less any other monies earned, for a period of one week.

The maximum combined shared maternity and standard parental allowance payable under the Tentative Collective Agreement will be increased from 52 weeks in the current Collective Agreement to 57 weeks. This will address the additional 5 weeks of EI parental benefits now available for non-birthing parents.

Extended Parental Benefits:

  • a lawyer who has chosen extended parental leave and who has chosen to receive extended EI parental benefits will be eligible to receive 55.8% of their weekly rate of pay for the waiting period, less any other monies earned,
  • for each week that a lawyer receives EI parental benefits, they will be eligible for a top-up of the difference between 55.8% of their weekly rate of pay and their EI benefits, less any other monies earned, AND
  • where a lawyer has received either the full 61 weeks of standard EI parental benefits or has divided the full 69 weeks of standard EI parental benefits and either employee remains on parental leave without pay, the lawyer is eligible to receive a further parental allowance of 55.8% of their weekly rate of pay and their EI benefits, less any other monies earned, for a period of one week.

The maximum combined shared maternity and standard parental allowance payable would be 86 weeks. This will address the additional 8 weeks of EI parental benefits now available for non-birthing parents.

In order to be eligible for parental benefits under either the previous or the new Collective Agreement, a lawyer must:

  • have completed 6 months of continuous employment prior to the commencement of parental leave,
  • provide proof that they have applied for and are in receipt of parental, paternity or adoption benefits under the Employment Insurance (EI) Plan or the Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP), AND
  • sign an agreement with the employer.

The new Collective Agreement clarifies that a lawyer must agree to return to work within the federal public administration, as specified in Schedule I, Schedule IV, or Schedule V of the Financial Administration Act (FAA).

A lawyer must also agree that following their return to work, that they will work for period equal to the period that they were in receipt of maternity and parental allowance. In addition to the time period that a lawyer is in receipt of the standard parental allowance, the new Collective Agreement will require a lawyer who chooses the extended parental allowance option to work for a period equal to 60% of the period that they were in receipt of the allowance.
 
A lawyer who becomes pregnant would still be entitled to 16 weeks of maternity allowance at 93% of the employee's weekly rate of pay, less any other monies earned during this period in combination with either the standard or extended parental benefit options.

There is very little difference between the amount of parental benefits received by lawyers under the standard and extended options. The new Collective Agreement would allow members to spread their top-up over 18 months. For those who choose the extended parental benefits option, the rate of the parental allowance will be lower, but the allowance will be received over a longer period of time.

In the interim, prior to the implementation of the new Collective Agreement, we encourage members who are able to sustain a period of unpaid leave with a 33% EI parental benefit, to consider taking advantage of the option to take extended parental leave with top up to 93% for up to 35 weeks. If approved by the employer, this un-negotiated temporary solution implemented by the employer may be financially advantageous for some lawyers.

Lawyers would need to carefully review the options and choose the one that best suits their needs. We recommend that lawyers plan ahead and make this choice well in advance of their leave. Once a lawyer elects the standard or extended parental benefits and the weekly benefit top-up allowance was set, the decision could not be changed if the lawyer returned to worker earlier than originally scheduled. This is also the case for EI benefits.  

You can find a summary chart of maternity and parental leaves and allowances here. You can also find sample parental benefit calculations provided by the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) here.

3. How will these changes apply to Québec residents?
Québec residents will be eligible for the non-discretionary extended parental leave.   Under the Québec Parental Insurance Program (QPIP) and the new Collective Agreement however, parental allowance would only be payable under the standard parental benefits option. The reason for this is that to be eligible for a parental allowance, lawyers must provide proof that they have applied for and are in receipt of QPIP parental, paternity or adoption benefits. Parental benefits are only available for 32 weeks with the QPIP Basic Plan, and 25 weeks with the QPIP Special plan.

Improvements to QPIP parental benefits have been proposed in Québec Bill 174, but have not yet been adopted.

Under the new Collective Agreement, lawyers residing in Québec will be eligible to receive a top-up of the difference between 93% of their weekly rate of pay and their QPIP benefits, less any other monies earned, for each week that they receive QPIP parental, adoption or paternity benefits.

In Québec, certain parents are eligible for five weeks of QPIP paternity benefits. These parents could be eligible to receive additional parental allowance for this time period. You can find out more about QPIP paternity benefits here.
 
There will also be an additional 2 weeks of parental benefits available to lawyers who have received the full 32 weeks of standard parental benefits or divided them with another parent who has received the full 5 weeks of QPIP paternity benefits. The maximum combined shared maternity and parental allowances payable will not exceed 57 weeks.

4. How will these changes apply to lawyers who are currently on maternity or parental leave or who will be on leave when the tentative collective agreement comes into force?
Changes to parental leave will come into effect on the date the Collective Agreement is signed  (August 30, 2019). Changes to existing and new compensation elements, including allowances, will come into effect within 180 days following the signature of the Tentative Collective Agreement. This date has not yet been determined.

If a lawyer has elected extended parental leave and their parental leave begins:

- before August 30, 2019: The existing parental leave and allowance provision will apply to their parental leave. Lawyers opting for an extended parental leave will need to apply for leave without pay for or care of family (caregiving leave) for up to 24 weeks following the end of their parental leave, dipping into their 5 year entitlement. This type of leave is subject to operational requirements.

- on or after August 30, 2019 but before the changes to parental allowance come into effect: The parental leave provisions in the collective agreement will apply to their parental leave. Lawyers will no longer need to apply for leave without pay for care of family (caregiving leave), which is subject to management discretion or operational requirements. Lawyers will be entitled to the existing parental allowance provisions. The maximum combined shared maternity and standard parental allowance payable will be 52 weeks, and will top up lawyers to 93% of their weekly rate of pay.

- after the changes to parental allowance come into effect: the parental leave and allowance provisions in the collective agreement will apply to their parental leave. Lawyers will no longer need to apply for leave without pay for care of family (caregiving leave), which is subject to management discretion or operational requirements. Lawyers will be entitled to the existing parental allowance provisions. The maximum combined shared maternity and standard parental allowance payable under the Collective Agreement is 86 weeks. Parental allowance would top-up lawyers to 55.8% of their weekly rate of pay.

Lawyers whose parental leave is likely to begin on or after August 30, 2019 should plan in advance for both possible scenarios until the changes to the parental allowance come into effect.


5. Will there be any changes to the pension contribution rates for lawyers on parental leave?
No.  Currently, a lawyer who is on leave without pay for any of the following reasons, is required to contribute to the public service pension plan at a single rate for the first 52 weeks of their absence:

  • because of the birth of a child of the contributor,
  • in order to carry out parental responsibilities in respect of the acceptance of custody of a child for adoption, or
  • to provide a child of the contributor with care and custody.
For any portion of leave that extends beyond 52 weeks, a lawyer is required to contribute at double rate, equivalent to twice the amount required had they not been absent. This applies to all contributors to the public service pension plan, including lawyers, regardless of their province of residence.

When a lawyer is on a leave without pay approved by the employer, they can choose to declare any period of their leave without pay in excess of the first three months as non-pensionable. This non-contributory service will not be credited to the lawyer either for eligibility or pension calculation purposes. You can find more information on public service pensionable service here.

While there are no changes to pension contribution rates for lawyers on parental leave in the new Collective Agreement, an initiative is currently underway to align the Public Service Superannuation Regulations with the recent Canada Labour Code amendments, as announced in the TBS Forward Regulatory Plan: 2019 to 2021. These amendments will extend the single rate for an additional 6 months for this type of leave, benefiting those lawyers who choose an extended parental leave.  

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