Maternity leave or leave in connection with pregnancy or childbirth
In order to care for an unborn child and recover from childbirth, a leave of 18 consecutive weeks without pay is provided. Only a pregnant person or a person who has given birth is entitled to this leave. During their leave, their employment relationship is protected and they may be entitled to benefits under the Régime québécois d’assurance parentale (RQAP).
If they continue to make contributions to the various group insurance and pension plans during their leave, the employer must do likewise.
After their leave, they may be entitled to parental leave.
Beginning and end of leave
The leave may begin as of the 16th week before the expected date of delivery and end no later than 20 weeks after the week of delivery. If the leave begins at the time of delivery, the week of delivery is not included in the calculation.
If the delivery occurs after the expected date, the person is entitled to at least 2 additional weeks of leave after the delivery, even if they have already used up their 18 weeks.
Laura decided that her 18 week maternity leave began 16 weeks before her due date and would end 2 weeks after the birth.
If she gave birth a week later than expected, she could take an additional week of leave to have a minimum of 2 weeks of maternity leave after the delivery.
The person may divide their leave before and after the date of delivery. At their request, the leave may be suspended, divided or extended if their health or their child’s health requires it.
If the pregnant person is still working in the 6th week before their expected date of delivery, their employer may require them to produce a written medical certificate stating that they are fit to work. If they do not provide the certificate within 8 days, their employer may oblige them to start their leave by giving them written notice.
If the pregnant person’s job involves hazards for them or the unborn child, they may be eligible for our For a Safe Maternity Experience Program.
If they have to stop working because their pregnancy endangers their health or the unborn child’s health or there is a risk of termination of pregnancy, they may be entitled to special leave during pregnancy.
Examinations related to pregnancy
A pregnant person may be absent from work as often as necessary, without pay, for examinations related to their pregnancy. They must inform their employer of their appointments as soon as possible.
Informing the employer
The pregnant person must give their employer written notice stating the date the leave will begin and the date they expect to return to work. It must be given to their employer 3 weeks before they go on leave.
The notice must always be accompanied by a medical certificate or a written report signed by a professional who is providing pregnancy follow up (in French only) to confirm the pregnancy and the expected date of delivery.
The period for informing the employer may be shorter than 3 weeks if the person’s health obliges them to leave earlier. In this case, they will have to provide a medical certificate stating the reasons why they are obliged to leave work.
Return to work
When the person returns to work, the employer must reinstate them in their regular position and give them the wages and benefits they would have been entitled to had they remained at work.
They may return to work before the date stated in the written notice they gave their employer. In this case, they must give their employer new notice, in writing, at least 3 weeks before their return.
If the person wishes to return to work less than 2 weeks after giving birth, their employer may require a written medical certificate stating that they are fit to return to work.
If their position was abolished while they were on leave, they retain the rights and privileges they would have been entitled to had they remained at work.
If they do not return to work on the scheduled date, their employer may consider them to have resigned. However, it is preferable for the employer to try to contact the person before the end of their leave to confirm their return date.