In order to care for her unborn child and recover from childbirth, a pregnant worker is entitled to maternity leave without pay. Only the biological mother is entitled to maternity leave. During her leave, her employment relationship is protected and she may be entitled to benefits under Régime québécois d'assurance parentale (RQAP).
If the worker continues to make contributions to the various group insurance and pension plans during her leave, the employer must do likewise.
After her maternity leave, the worker may be entitled to parental leave.
Beginning and end of maternity 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 the delivery. If the birth occurred before January 1, 2021, the maternity leave can end no later than 18 weeks after the week of the 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 worker is entitled to at least 2 weeks of maternity leave after the delivery, even if she has already used up her 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 maternity leave to have a minimum of 2 weeks of maternity leave after the delivery.
The worker may divide her leave before and after the date of delivery. At the request of the worker, the maternity leave may be suspended, divided or extended if her or her child's health conditions required it.
If the pregnant woman is still working in the 6th week before her expected date of delivery, her employer may require her to produce a written medical certificate stating that she is fit to work. If she does not provide the certificate within 8 days, her employer may oblige her to start her maternity leave by giving her written notice.
If the worker's job involves hazards for her or her unborn child, she may be eligible for the For a Safe Maternity Experience Program.
If the worker has to stop working because her pregnancy endangers her health or that of her unborn child or there is a risk of termination of pregnancy, she may be entitled to special maternity leave.
Examinations related to pregnancy
A pregnant worker may be absent from work as often as necessary, without pay, for examinations related to her pregnancy. She must inform her employer of her appointments as soon as possible.
Informing the employer
The worker must give her employer written notice stating the date the leave will begin and the date she expects to return to work. It must be given to her employer 3 weeks before she goes on maternity leave.
The notice must always be accompanied by a medical certificate or a written report signed by a midwife confirming the pregnancy and the expected date of delivery.
The period for informing the employer may be shorter than 3 weeks if the worker's health obliges her to leave earlier. In this case, she will have to provide a medical certificate stating the reasons why she is obliged to leave work.
In the event of a termination of pregnancy or preterm delivery, the worker must give her employer written notice as soon as possible informing them of the event and the date she expects to return to work. The notice must be accompanied by a medical certificate attesting to the event.
Return to work
When the worker returns to work, her employer must reinstate her in her regular position and give her the wages and benefits she would have been entitled to had she remained at work.
The worker may return to work before the date stated in the written notice she gave her employer. In this case, she must give her employer new notice, in writing, at least 3 weeks before her return.
If the worker wishes to return to work less than 2 weeks after giving birth, her employer may require a written medical certificate stating that she is fit to return to work.
If her position was abolished while she was on leave, the worker retains the rights and privileges she would have been entitled to had she remained at work.
If the worker does not return to work on the scheduled date, her employer may consider her to have resigned. However, it is preferable that the employer try to contact the person before the end of her leave to confirm her return date.