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"Pair"enting - Guidelines for taking leave


A mother taking maternity leave is very common, but does everyone know that dads are also entitled to a leave? While maternity leave is strictly for mothers, parental leave is for parents. This means that the father can take the parental leave, or the mother can, or they could even split the time (all without interrupting the 16 consecutive weeks of maternity leave). Parental leave is an unpaid leave of 62 consecutive weeks granted to anyone who has just become a parent, whether that be birth parents or adoptive parents. Just like maternity leave, an individual is eligible for parental leave in Alberta if they have been employed by the same employer for at least 90 days. It is a job protected leave which means that taking this leave poses zero risk to their job security. It also means that their same job, or one of equivalence, must be waiting for them when they return to work. While maternity leave must commence no later than birth (but can start within the 13 weeks leading up to the birth), parental leave can start any time after the birth / adoption, however it must be completed within 78 weeks of the date the baby arrives with the family.

Increasing Trend?

In the past it was more common for women to take their leave from the workforce to care for the newest addition to their family. However, more recently the trend for fathers taking at least a portion of the leave is on the rise. There are many different factors that can affect this type of decision. Some possible factors that individuals might influence an individual’s decision are their employment industry, their specific job and organizational structure, their benefits / compensation, desire, or plainly – who is a better fit in each role.

The following data outlines the increase of Canadian fathers who took their parental leave.

Statistics Canada have published the following numbers which support the concept of an increase in fathers taking parental leave. For a more in-depth view of the study click here:

- From 2001 – 2006 34% of fathers took parental or paternity leave

- From 2012-2017 46% of fathers took parental or paternity leave

- 42% of fathers left on their annual vacation following the birth or adoption of a child.

Rules for the parent

Sharing the leave:

Some key notes to remember about taking parental leaves is that while maternity is strictly for mothers, parental leave is for mothers and fathers. This means that the parent who decides to take the parental leave, does not have to take it for the entire duration. Some parents intend to share their parental leave, which is allowed, but they must tell their individual employers their intention on splitting it. It is important to note that both parents cannot take the parental leave in its entirety, it is either one or the other or a split.

Notice Requirements:

In addition to providing their employers with their intention on sharing the leave, they must also provide sufficient notice of taking the leave in the first place. To take parental leave, a parent must provide written notice to their employer as soon as they possibly can. To take maternity leave, the mother must provide written notice and a medical certificate within 2 weeks of their last day of work (or as soon as possible … sometimes there are surprises!). However, to end the leave, employees must give their employer written notice of at least 4 weeks in advance stating that they will be returning to work, or that they will not be returning to work after their leave ends. This is important because employers are not required to reinstate employees who fail to give notice (unless it was entirely out of their control).

Becoming a parent is a new and exciting event which has no space for job stress! We can help eliminate those extra stressors by providing you a clear explanation on things that might not be so clear. If you finished this article and still have questions - contact us!


Government of Alberta. (2022). Maternity and parental leave. Alberta Employment Standards.

Statistics Canada. (2021). Study: Family matters: Parental leave in Canada. The daily.

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