Ontario Parental Leave – Know Your Rights

If you are about to become a new parent in Toronto, you need to know your rights concerning parental leave. Understanding the regulations and entitlements can make the process smoother and allow you to focus on what matters most—your growing family. This article will thoroughly explore Ontario’s parental leave policies, covering eligibility, duration, notice requirements, and what to do if you encounter any challenges. So, let’s dive in and ensure you’re well-informed!

Parental Leave in Ontario Begins within 78 Weeks

Parental leave in Toronto is a valuable benefit designed to support new parents during this significant life transition. Part XIV of the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA), outlines the minimum employment standards for parental leave for provincially regulated employees. One crucial aspect is when parental leave should begin.

According to the ESA, both birth and adoptive parents have the right to take parental leave. Additionally, individuals in a relationship of some permanence with the child’s parent are also eligible. 

Whether you are a full-time, part-time, permanent, or term contract employee, you have the right to take parental leave if you meet the ESA’s employee criteria and have been employed for at least 13 weeks before starting the leave.

Parents must commence their parental leave within 78 weeks after the baby’s birth or when their child comes into their care, custody, and control. This flexibility allows parents to handle personal circumstances while ensuring they have ample time to bond with their new family members.

A birth mother who takes pregnancy leave typically transitions directly into parental leave after pregnancy leave ends. However, if the baby has not yet come into the mother’s custody when the pregnancy leave concludes, the mother can choose to return to work temporarily and commence parental leave at a later date, but still within the 78-week timeframe.

Parental Leave in Ontario is up to 63 Weeks Off

The duration of parental leave is an essential aspect to consider. The ESA allows birth mothers who take pregnancy leave to take parental leave for up to 61 weeks. For all other new parents, the parental leave can be up to 63 weeks.

These numbers represent the maximum number of weeks that employees are entitled to take for parental leave. However, if you prefer to take a shorter leave for personal reasons or work arrangements, you have the flexibility to do so. Just remember that parental leave cannot be divided into multiple periods. Once you start your leave, it must continue without interruptions until its conclusion.

Giving Your Employer Notice of Parental Leave

Providing adequate notice to your employer before starting parental leave is crucial for smooth planning and seamless transition. Employees are required to give their employer at least two weeks’ written notice before commencing parental leave.

Interestingly, once you have given notice to your employer about your intended parental leave start date, you have the flexibility to adjust that date if needed. If you wish to begin your leave earlier than the initially planned date, simply provide your employer with another written notice at least two weeks before your new intended start date. Similarly, if you need to postpone your parental leave, provide a new written notice to your employer at least two weeks before the original leave start date.

Moreover, suppose you stop working earlier than expected because your child is born or comes into your custody, care, and control earlier than anticipated. In that case, parental leave is considered to have started on the day you stop working.

To maximize flexibility, remember that your employer assumes you’ll use the full 61 or 63 weeks of parental leave unless otherwise specified. If you decide to return to work before utilizing all the available leave weeks, you must give your employer four weeks’ written notice before your desired return-to-work date.

If You are Not Returning To Work After Parental Leave

Life can be unpredictable, and sometimes plans change after parental leave. If you decide to resign from your employment during your parental leave or at its end, you must provide your employer with four weeks’ written notice. However, this notice requirement does not apply if you have been constructively dismissed.

While Ontario’s parental leave policies aim to protect your rights as a new parent, challenges may arise in some situations. If you encounter difficulties in taking parental leave, such as employer threats of discipline or termination, call a Toronto labour lawyer.


Understanding your rights regarding parental leave in Ontario ensures a smooth and stress-free experience. By knowing your entitlements, duration options, and notice requirements, you can focus on parenthood’s joys while protecting your legal rights. Remember, if you encounter difficulties, you can always seek assistance from an experienced employment lawyer who will advocate for your rights and ensure a fair and equitable resolution.




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