Employment Insurance Maternity and Parental Benefits

It is my second work anniversary today, however I am currently on maternity leave and I sometimes miss work and my colleagues. I also miss a lot of the fun and social activities that happen at work.

So I thought to share some information regarding maternity benefits in Canada as I have been asked a number of times by some people. For starters, it is not compulsory to take a full year (12 months) of maternity leave if you do not wish to. There is also the option of taking as much as 18 months maternity leave, just be sure of your needs and choose what is best for you and your family.

The basic rate for calculating EI maternity benefits is 55% of your average weekly insurable earnings, up to a maximum amount. As of January 1, 2019, the maximum yearly insurable earnings amount is $53,100. This means that you can receive a maximum amount of $562 per week.

Note: EI means Employment Insurance

In the 2017 Budget announcement, the Government of Canada committed to provide more flexible EI maternity and parental benefits to support Canadian families. Starting December 3, 2017, claimants can access maternity benefits up to 12 weeks prior to their expected date of confinement. In addition, parents have the option to receive parental benefits over a longer period at a lower benefit rate.

What are Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits?

The Employment Insurance (EI) program offers temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers. This assistance includes providing maternity benefits and parental benefits.

What are EI maternity benefits?

EI maternity benefits are offered to biological mothers, including surrogate mothers, who cannot work because they are pregnant or have recently given birth. A maximum of 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits is available. Effective December 3, 2017, the 15 weeks can start as early as 12 weeks before the expected date of birth, and can end as late as 17 weeks after the actual date of birth.

What are EI parental benefits?

EI parental benefits are offered to parents who are caring for a newborn or newly adopted child or children.

There are two options available for receiving parental benefits: standard or extended.

Standard parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 35 weeks and must be claimed within a 52-week period (12 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 55% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of standard parental benefits.

Extended parental benefits can be paid for a maximum of 61 weeks and must be claimed within a 78-week period (18 months) after the week the child was born or placed for the purpose of adoption. The benefits are available to biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents at a weekly benefit rate of 33% of the claimant’s average weekly insurable earnings up to a maximum amount. The two parents can share these 61 weeks of extended parental benefits.

You can choose to claim extended parental benefits only if your child was born or placed with you for the purpose of adoption on or after December 3, 2017
Note: The number of weeks of EI maternity or parental benefits you are entitled to receive does not change, even if you have a multiple birth (twins, triplets, etc.) or if you adopt more than one child at the same time.

Are you eligible for EI maternity or parental benefits?

You may be eligible to receive EI maternity or parental benefits if:

-you are employed in insurable employment;
-you meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or parental benefits;
-your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%; and
-you have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period or, if you are a self-employed fisher, you have earned enough money during the qualifying period.

You have paid EI premiums

If you are employed in insurable employment, your employer will deduct the applicable EI premiums from your wages or salary. There is no minimum or maximum age for paying EI premiums.

You need to pay EI premiums on all your earnings up to a maximum amount. In 2019, for every $100 you earn, your employer will deduct $1.62, until your annual earnings reach the maximum yearly insurable amount of $53,100. The maximum amount of premiums to be paid in 2019 is therefore $860.22.

Quebec has its own program that offers maternity, paternity, and parental benefits, so the Government of Canada has adjusted the premiums accordingly for that province. In 2019, the premium rate for workers in Quebec is set at $1.25 for every $100 of earnings, up to a maximum amount of $663.75 for the year.

Note: These rates and amounts are reviewed each year. For more information on the most recent rates and amounts, visit the EI premium rates and maximums.

You meet the specific criteria for receiving EI maternity or parental benefits

EI maternity benefits are payable only to the biological mother who is unable to work because she is pregnant or has recently given birth. To receive maternity benefits, you need to prove your pregnancy by signing a statement declaring the expected due date or the actual date of birth.

EI parental benefits are payable only to the biological, adoptive, or legally recognized parents while they are caring for their newborn or newly adopted child or children. To receive parental benefits, you must sign a statement declaring the newborn’s date of birth or, when there is an adoption, the child’s date of placement for the purposes of the adoption and the name and address of the adoption authority. In cases where the child is not legally adoptable, parental benefits could be payable from the date you attest that you consider the placement a permanent one. In these circumstances, the Commission may, at any time, request proof certifying that the child for whom you are claiming parental benefits has been placed with you by a recognized authority and that the placement was not merely a temporary one.

Your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40%

When your normal weekly earnings are reduced by more than 40% because of pregnancy or your need to care for newborn or newly adopted children, you may be eligible for EI maternity or parental benefits.

You have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment during the qualifying period

Hours of insurable employment are the hours you work, for either one or more employers under written or verbal contracts of service, for which you receive wages.

The qualifying period is the shorter of:

the 52-week period immediately before the start date of your EI period; or
the period since the start of a previous EI benefit period, if that benefit period started during the last 52 weeks.
To be eligible for EI maternity benefits, you must have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment in your qualifying period. If you are a self-employed fisher, you must have earned $3,760 from fishing during the 31-week qualifying period immediately before the start of your benefit period.

To be eligible for EI parental benefits, each parent who applies for benefits must have accumulated at least 600 hours of insurable employment in his or her qualifying period. If you are a self-employed fisher, you must have earned $3,760 from fishing during the 31-week qualifying period immediately before the start of your benefit period.

For more information on EI benefits, visit the below website:

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/maternity-parental.html

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