New EI parental sharing benefit introduced and employment leaves expanded in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

The federal government recently set a start date for a new Employment Insurance (EI) parental sharing benefit that was announced in the 2018 Federal Budget. In addition, Nova Scotia has expanded parental leave periods, as well as leaves for the care of a critically ill child and adult. Finally, New Brunswick has introduced domestic violence leave.

New EI parental sharing benefit

On September 26, 2018, the Government of Canada announced that it intends to launch a new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit on March 17, 2019. The new benefit was previously announced in the 2018 Federal Budget. This measure was originally anticipated to come into effect in June 2019; however, it will now be implemented three months earlier.

Under the current rules, either parent may receive up to 35 weeks of EI standard parental leave benefits, and the other parent can receive the remainder of the 35 weeks. (The 35 weeks may be extended to 61 weeks at a lower rate.) As such, if a couple decided that one parent would take the 35 weeks of EI parental leave benefits, there are no EI parental leave benefits available to the other parent.

Under the new EI parental sharing benefit, a second parent may receive up to an additional five weeks of benefits for a total of 40 weeks of EI standard parental leave benefits between two parents. The additional five weeks can only be taken by a second parent. Eight additional weeks are available for those who choose the extended parental leave option.

Parents with children born or placed for adoption on or after March 17, 2019, will be eligible for the new benefit.

Nova Scotia expands parental leave period and leaves for the care of a critically ill child and adult

On October 11, 2018, Nova Scotia amended its labour standards legislation to provide for increased pregnancy and parental leave periods, as well as introducing a new form of leave for the care of critically ill adults and expanding leave for the care of a critically ill child. These amendments are in line with recent amendments to the EI rules, as discussed in our January 2018 News & Views.

Specifically, Nova Scotia has:

  • Decreased the maximum period of pregnancy leave from 17 weeks to 16 weeks, to accommodate the decrease in waiting period for EI benefits to one week;
  • Increased the maximum period of parental leave from 52 weeks to 77 weeks;
  • Increased the maximum period of combined pregnancy/parental leave from 52 weeks to 77 weeks;
  • Created a new 16 week critically ill adult care leave; and
  • Expanded the number of family members who can take a critically ill child care leave.

These changes came into effect immediately on October 11, 2018.

New Brunswick creates domestic violence leave

Effective September 1, 2018, New Brunswick has introduced leave for employees who experience domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence (Domestic Violence Leave). This new form of leave is also available for employees with a child that experiences domestic violence.

The new Regulations provide the following two separate types of Domestic Violence Leave, both of which may be taken by an eligible employee in any year:

  • up to 10 days to be used intermittently or continuously; and/or
  • up to 16 weeks to be used in one continuous period, of which the first 5 days would be paid.

An employee must be employed for more than 90 days to be eligible for a Domestic Violence Leave. An employee may be granted a Domestic Violence Leave only for certain specified purposes.


Comment

The new EI Parental Sharing benefit will provide for an additional five weeks of leave to be taken by a second parent, typically the father, and may result in more parents taking parental leave after the birth of a child. Employers with employees located in Nova Scotia will have to maintain pension and benefit plan coverage during the new extended periods of leave that have been adopted, provided that employees make any required contributions. With the introduction of Domestic Violence Leave, New Brunswick joins a growing number of provinces that require domestic violence leave to be granted. Some of these provinces require a certain number of such days to be paid by the employer.

Morneau Shepell will continue to monitor and keep you updated on the expansion of employment leave periods.


News & Views - November 2018 (PDF)