If you have not already done so, please access the Maternity Leave Brochure: Everything you need to know about maternity leave (also available in French: Tout ce que vous devez savoir sur le congé de maternité). This brochure will help answer many of your questions.
There are four pillars of Maternity and Parental Leave: Time Off, Employment Insurance, Supplementary Employment Benefit Plan (SEB)/Top Up, and Group Health Benefits and Insurance.
Maternity leave can only be used by birth mothers since it recognizes the medical needs of a mother who gives birth. To access maternity leave, you must provide a minimum of 6 weeks written notice to the school division. Your notice should include a note from the doctor or signed certificate from a midwife with the expected due date. Contact Teacher Welfare for assistance with your notice to the school division.
While pregnant, it is your legal right to take from 16 weeks-78 weeks (18 months) of leave. Sixteen weeks is considered “maternity leave” while the remaining weeks are considered “parental leave”. You can start and end your leave at any time within these 78 weeks as long as the start of the maternity leave is within the 12 weeks before your child is born and up to the birthdate itself.
If you wish to return to work from maternity leave earlier than anticipated, this requires 4 weeks notice to your employer and a medical note.
Parental and adoption leave
Parents (birth mother, partner or adoptive parent) can access parental leave, which is a minimum of 37 weeks and can be shared by both parents. Just like maternity leave, 6 weeks written notice to start the leave must be provided. For adoptive parents, the parental leave portion can be shared by both parents to a maximum of 37 weeks. If both parents work for the same employer and want their parental leave at the same time, it may be subject to employer approval. If you are adopting, please contact Teacher Welfare for assistance.
If you wish to return to work from a parental leave earlier than anticipated, this requires 4 weeks written notice to the employer.
Remember, depending on your collective bargaining agreement you may be entitled to more leave than is mandated by law. Check your collective agreement to get more detailed information on leave
lengths. Please note: teachers on probationary or temporary contracts should contact the Association for clarification.
For information, see the Association's Employment Insurance page.
Supplementary Employment Benefits (SEB) / Supplementary Unemployment Benefits (SUB) Benefits Or Top Up
There are two types of maternity salary payment plans (also referred to as salary ‘top up’ while collecting EI maternity benefits): “Health-Related” and “Fixed” plans. In either case, a teacher may also choose sick leave instead of the Health-Related or Fixed salary payment plan. Salary top up is only paid during periods when teachers are earning salary and is only for maternity leave (not parental). Note that you must be in receipt of EI to receive top up.
Your collective agreement will indicate how many weeks of top up to EI you will receive. This can also be dependent on a doctor’s note and the amount of sick leave entitlement you have.
This payment structure for Health-Related plans links the payment plan in sick leave to maternity leave. In order to receive salary from the board, you must be unable to work for medical reasons and will be driven by the teacher’s health as documented by her doctor. Under this plan, the salary payment is not predictable since the sick leave experience is different for every teacher.
Fixed plan (or set SEB/SUB plan)
This is a predetermined number of weeks. These plans require a teacher to choose between sick leave or a fixed plan, which is 13 to 18 weeks of top up (depending on the collective agreement). A choice for payment structure must be indicated in the teacher’s letter of notice to take leave. The teacher must be able to work until at least 12 weeks prior to expected date of delivery and qualify for EI in order to access the fixed plan. If this is not possible, then sick leave and Extended/Long-Term Disability will be the default.
You can find more information on Health-Related or Fixed plans, including lists of school jurisdictions further down on this page.
Group Health Benefits And Insurance
While you are on your leave, the Association encourages you to retain full coverage of benefits beyond the 16 weeks/36 weeks you are entitled to in your collective agreement.
Benefits should be retained for the full duration of your leave (16 weeks of maternity and 36 weeks of parental). All collective agreements contain a provision that prepayment / repayment arrangements of benefit premiums can be made by the employer on behalf of the teacher. The teacher is expected to pre-pay or repay those premiums upon return to work (see article 11.2 in your collective agreement).
Retaining benefits protects yourself and your family
While expensive in the short term, keeping benefits coverage will guarantee your access to benefits during your leave should there be any health emergencies or change in family status, such as partner employment status or divorce. Many teachers wrongly believe their spousal plan will provide full coverage for them during a leave when in fact income replacement insurance plans such as EDB or LTD, Life or Accidental Death and Dismemberment can only be provided through the teachers’ own plans. At minimum, if the option is available, teachers are strongly encouraged to retain their income replacement plans.
Adding your new child to your coverage
When the child arrives, you will need to notify the school board (and your benefits provider) to advise of the birth date of the child and to put them on the benefit plan. Please note that this must be done within 31 days of the birth.
Going Back to Work
Within the year of maternity parental leave, most parents return to active duty with their school boards. In order to return to work, teachers must provide at least 4 weeks written notice of their intention. This is a teacher’s entitlement. You can return to work at any point in the first year of the maternity or parental leave with 4 weeks written notice, and school boards are obligated to return you to the same position or one that is comparable in terms of skills and compensation and mutually agreed upon.
Extending Your Leave
Under many collective agreements, it is possible to access either a general leave of absence or child care leave of absence for up to one year after the first year of the baby’s life. To do this, you will need to make an application to the school board to extend your leave. Depending on the language of the collective agreement, you may or may not be granted an extension. Teachers must also be aware that the return to work from these leaves will be at an agreed time decided by both the teacher and the board. In most instances, this means returning to work only after natural breaks in the school year. Note that, in this case, you do not have the same guarantee of position. Ensure you maintain benefit coverage throughout an extended leave.
Choosing Part Time
After becoming parents, it is not unusual to want a part time assignment upon returning to work. The Association recommends that parents who wish to drop to a part time teaching role first contact Teacher Welfare. Following that, teachers need to write to their board and request a part time leave of absence and therefore maintain their full time continuing contract. These leaves of absence are discretionary.
Most often, school boards work with the teacher to help them accommodate their changed family circumstances. The advantage of requesting a part time leave of absence within a full time continuing contract is that in the future, the teacher will be returned to their full time assignment because they have not altered their contractual status. They will also be able to purchase the pensionable service when they return from their leave absence. Find out more on the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund website. (www.atrf.com/)
Substitute Teachers, Temporary Contracts, Probationary Teachers and Teachers with Designations
Teachers expecting in their first year of teaching may not have access to the same sick leave entitlements as teachers who are in their second year of teaching with the school jurisdiction or who are on a continuing contract. The default for these teachers is the statutory sick leave described in the School Act. This will be either 20 days in the school year or calculated by taking the number of days worked divided by 9. Check your collective agreement to see when
your 20 days takes effect.
Those who are on temporary or probationary contracts will be provided with leave during the term of their contract. Like any other teacher on a temporary or probationary contract, there is no guarantee of a new contract being provided for the next school year. Your benefits end when your contract ends.
Health-related and Fixed Plans
From the Mediator’s Recommendation of the Central Collective Agreement Language (2018-2020):
11.3A Salary and Benefit Premium Payment Health Related
11.3.A shall apply to the School Jurisdictions in column A of Appendix C
11.3.1A The School Jurisdiction shall top up Supplementary Employment Benefits (SEB) to 100 percent of the teacher’s weekly salary for the duration of the health related portion of the maternity leave at a minimum of six (6) or CURRENT___ weeks to a maximum of ninety (90) calendar days, or to the extent of sick leave entitlement as per Article 10.
11.3.2A When the teacher is not eligible for Employment Insurance Benefits, the teacher will have access to sick leave benefits as per Article 10.
11.3.3A The teacher shall provide a medical certificate or written statement from a midwife registered with the College of Midwives of Alberta in order to access the SEB plan or sick leave.
11.3.4 A The School Jurisdiction shall pay the portion of the teacher’s benefits plan premiums and contribute Health Spending Account amounts specified in Article 7.0 of the Collective Agreement for sixteen (16) weeks of maternity leave.
11.3.5 A The School Jurisdiction shall pay the portion of the teacher’s benefits plan premiums specified in Article 7.0 of the Collective Agreement for thirty-six (36) weeks of parental leave. The Health Spending Account (HSA) will remain active for the duration of parental leave but no further credits will be contributed to the HSA during this time.
11.3B Salary Payment and Benefit Premium Payment Set SEB Plan
11.3.B shall apply to the School Jurisdictions in column B in Appendix C with their current number of weeks.
11.3.1 B At the commencement of maternity leave, the teacher shall be eligible for one of the following options:
11.3.2 B If the absence begins prior to twelve (12) weeks before the estimated date of delivery and continues without return to work, the teacher shall access sick leave until such point as the teacher is eligible to apply for Extended Disability Benefits. The teacher shall provide a medical certificate indicating that she is unable to work because of a medical condition.
11.3.3 B If the absence begins within twelve (12) weeks before the estimated date of delivery or on the date of delivery, the teacher shall choose either (a) or (b). Such choice shall apply until the teacher returns to work after the delivery.
a) The teacher may access sick leave entitlement with pay as specified in Article 10 for the period of illness or disability.
b) The Employer shall implement a Supplementary Employment Benefits (SEB) plan which shall provide teachers on maternity leave with 100% of their salary during ____ CURRENT weeks of leave.
11.3.4 B The School Jurisdiction shall pay the portion of the teacher’s benefits plan premiums and contribute HSA amounts specified in Article 7.0 of the Collective Agreement for sixteen (16) weeks of maternity leave.
11.3.5 B The School Jurisdiction shall pay the portion of the teacher’s benefits plan premiums specified in Article 7.0 of the Collective Agreement for thirty-six (36) weeks of parental leave. The HSA will remain active for the duration of parental leave but no further credits will be contributed to the HSA during this time.
School Jurisdictions with Either Option 11.3.A or 11.3.B for Salary and Benefit Premium Payment During Maternity and Parental Leave
- Black Gold Regional Division No. 18
- Buffalo Trail Public Schools Regional Division No. 28
- Calgary Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 1
- Calgary School District No. 19
- Canadian Rockies Regional Division No.12
- Chinook's Edge School Division No. 73
- Christ the Redeemer Catholic Separate Regional Division No. 3
- Clearview School Division No. 71
- East Central Alberta Catholic Separate Schools Regional Div. 16
- Edmonton School District No. 7
- Elk Island Public Schools Regional Division No. 14
- Foothills School Division No. 38
- Fort McMurray Public School District No. 2833
- Fort McMurray Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 32
- Fort Vermilion School Division No. 52
- Golden Hills School Division No.75
- Grande Prairie Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 28
- Grande Prairie School District No. 2357
- Grasslands Regional Division No. 6
- Greater St. Albert Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 734
- High Prairie School Division No. 48
- Holy Family Catholic Regional Division No. 37
Lakeland Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 150
- Lethbridge School District No. 51
- Medicine Hat Roman Catholic Separate School District No. 21
- Aspen View Public School Division No. 78
- Battle River Regional Division No. 31
- East Central Francophone Education Region No. 3
- Edmonton Catholic Separate School District No. 7
- Elk Island Catholic Separate Regional Division No. 41
- Evergreen Catholic Separate Regional Division No. 2
- Grande Yellowhead Public School Division No.77
- Greater North Central Francophone Education Region No. 2
- Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate Regional Division No. 4
- Horizon School Division No. 67
- Living Waters Catholic Regional Division No. 42
- Livingstone Range School Division No. 68
- Northwest Francophone Education Region No. 1
- Palliser Regional Division No. 26
- Parkland School Division No. 70
- Pembina Hills Regional Division No. 7
- Red Deer Catholic Regional Division No. 39
- Sturgeon School Division No. 24
- The Southern Francophone Education Region No. 4
- Westwind School Division No. 74
- Wetaskiwin Regional Division No. 11
- Wolf Creek School Division No. 72