Maternity and parental leave

Time off

Maternity leave is available only to birth mothers. You must give at least six weeks’ written notice to your school division to access maternity leave. This should include a note from your doctor or a certificate from a midwife with your due date.

You have a legal right to take 16–78 weeks (up to 18 months) of leave. Maternity leave is 16 weeks. Parental leave follows. You can start your maternity leave up to 12 weeks before your child is born or on the birthdate. You can end your leave at any time within the 78 weeks.

Parental leave can be accessed by the birth mother, the partner or an adoptive parent. Parental leave is at least 37 weeks, and both parents can share the leave. As with maternity leave, you should provide six weeks’ written notice to your school division.

For adoptive parents, parental leave can also be shared by both parents, up to 37 weeks.

If both parents work for the same school division and want to take parental leave at the same time, your employer must approve this leave.

Employment insurance (EI) and teachers

Refer to the section on employment insurance (EI).

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Supplementary employment benefits (SEB)

Supplementary employment benefits (SEB) are also referred to as supplementary unemployment benefits (SUB) or top-up.

There are two types of maternity salary payment plans:

  • Health-related plan
  • Fixed plan

In both plans, you may also choose sick leave instead of a salary payment plan. Salary top-up is not paid during nonteaching periods. It is also only for maternity leave, and you must be in receipt of EI to receive this top-up.

The health-related plan links the payment plan in sick leave to maternity leave. In this case, you must be unable to work for medical reasons associated with the pregnancy.

The fixed plan is a predetermined number of weeks. You choose between sick leave and a fixed plan, which can be 13–18 weeks of top-up. State your choice in your letter of notice to take leave. You must be able to work until at least 12 weeks before your expected date of delivery and must qualify for EI. If EI is not possible, sick leave and extended or long-term disability will be the default.

Your collective agreement states how many weeks of top-up to EI you will receive. This can also depend on a doctor’s note and your sick leave entitlement.

Group health benefits and insurance

The ATA encourages you to keep your full benefits coverage for your entire leave.

Your collective agreement contains a provision for prepayment or repayment arrangements with your employer. Upon your return to work, you can repay those premiums. You can also prepay benefits before you start your leave.

Keeping your benefits protects you and your family. You may need to access benefits for health emergencies, or you may have a change in your family status (such as separation or divorce). Note that spousal plans do not provide full coverage for you during a leave. For example, spousal plans do not offer income replacement insurance, so you should at least keep your own income replacement plans (extended disability benefits, long-term disability, life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment).

Remember to add your child to your coverage as soon as they are born. Notify your school division and your benefits provider within 31 days of the birth. Failing to do so can have serious consequences.

Other considerations

Return to work

Before you return to work from your leave, you must provide at least four weeks’ written notice. You can return to work at any point during your first year of maternity or parental leave. You must come back to the same or a comparable position.

Extended leave

You may be able to extend your leave after your baby’s first birthday. Check your collective agreement to see if this is an option. Apply to your school division in advance.

Part-time status

You may want a part-time assignment upon returning to work from parental leave. There are some issues you should consider. Contact Teacher Employment Services.

Pensionable service

When you are returning to work, consider purchasing pensionable service for your leave. Find out more on the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ATRF) website. The longer you wait to buy pensionable service, the more expensive it will be.

Teachers on temporary or probationary contract or teachers with designations

You may not have access to the same entitlements as other teachers. Entitlement defaults to statutory sick leave (Education Act). This either is 20 days in the school year or is calculated by taking the number of days worked and dividing by 9. Check your collective agreement. Be aware that a new contract is not guaranteed upon your return and that your benefits end when your contract ends.

Substitute teachers

Substitute teachers have no maternity or parental leave provisions. When you are ready to take your leave, remove your name from the substitute roster. When you are ready to return to work, get your name back on the roster.