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Laws regarding parental and maternity leave in Alberta

The law entitles Alberta employees to take time off from work for maternity and other parental issues. However, both employers and eligible employees must follow certain guidelines governing temporary absences from the workplace.

Under the Employment Standards Code of Alberta, employers are required to rehire a part-time or full-time employee who requests a temporarily leave of absence due to the birth or adoption of a child, provided that the employee has worked 52 consecutive weeks for the same employer. Birth mothers have the right to take a job-protected leave of up to 52 weeks. The first 15 of those weeks is considered an unpaid maternity leave and the last 37 weeks is an unpaid parental leave. Parental leave may also apply to fathers and adoptive parents.

For birth mothers, parental leave officially starts following the birth of the child. An employee who is an adoptive parent or a father may begin the parental leave anytime within a 52-week window following the child's adoption or birth. Both parents can take a parental leave together, but the leave must be combined and cannot surpass 37 weeks, according to the law.

As long as employees are prompt in returning to work and provide written notification prior to and following a leave, employers must reinstate returning employees to their original or comparable workplace position. No employer can lay off an employee or compel the employee to resign because of a childbirth or pregnancy.

Employees who face termination for their job despite these unambiguous laws may wish to turn to a lawyer with a firm grasp of Canada's employment laws. The lawyer may review the case and explain to the employee various courses of action they can take together to hold the employer liable.

Source: Alberta learning information service. , "Employment Law", December 10, 2014

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