Maternity Leave Rights

At Taylor Janis, we understand womens' rights in the workplace.

We also understand that many companies in Alberta and BC, lack the knowledge or training necessary to accommodate women in the workplace; or that they manage to find creative ways around their obligations. This is particularly true regarding maternity leave rights, as, unfortunately, many women are vulnerable during this time, to employer abuse and discrimination; abuse and discrimination which may significantly affect their careers and livelihoods.

Below is some general information about your maternity leave and pregnancy-related rights in the workplace.

Your employment rights while pregnant at work

The Alberta Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination based on gender. Pregnancy is included under the ground of gender, thus the law prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy.

In most cases, it is contrary to the Code to:

  • ask on job applications or in job interviews if you are pregnant or plan to have children
  • lay you off or demote you because you are pregnant
  • Harass or bully you because you are pregnant
  • prevent you from using your benefit plan for the health related part of your maternity leave
  • ask you to pre-pay your benefit premiums or to pay your employer's share of premiums for the health related part of your maternity leave

Your pregnancy may prevent you from doing your job. Where possible, your employer should try to modify the workplace so you can work without harming yourself or the baby you carry.

For example, a pregnant store clerk may not have to carry heavy boxes from the stock room if there is someone else on staff who can be asked. The clerk would then be expected to assume additional less-physically demanding duties in exchange for not carrying heavy boxes.

Negative comments or reactions from customers or staff about your pregnancy cannot be used as a reason to fire you, lay you off or demote you.

Your employment rights after pregnancy

  • During your maternity leave or pregnancy-related absence, you
    are entitled to the same employee benefits that they received during employment. Contributions towards employment benefits such as pension, health insurance, life insurance, disability, dental, medical etc. should be paid during maternity leave if you were receiving these benefits during employment. If you were responsible for a portion of the cost of benefits during employment, you continue to be responsible for that portion while you are on maternity leave.
  • While on maternity leave, you should be made aware of job opportunities that become available so that, if you wish, you can compete for them.
  • Your seniority and years of service continue to accrue during your maternity leave, as this is not considered a break in the employment period.
  • You should be able to use any normally available medical, dental, and health benefits while on maternity leave. 
  • While on maternity leave you should be informed of any changes to your job, and be given the same opportunity to participate in any work-related discussions or consultations as employees who are at the workplace.   
  • During your return to work post-pregnancy, you should return to the same job or a similar job, if the original job no longer exists.
  • You should receive any wage increases that came into effect while you were on maternity leave.
  • If you breastfeed, you should be provided with accommodation for this purpose. This accommodation can include:  Providing a suitable clean place to breast-feed or express milk and to store milk; Providing longer or extra breaks for the purpose of breast-feeding or expressing milk; or, other necessary accommodations.

If you think your maternity leave rights have been violated, or, you would like to have a confidential discussion about your maternity leave rights, please contact Taylor Janis. We look forward to helping you.

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