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Monday, August 3, 2009

Materntiy leave: time and money

This post is part of the Carnival of Maternity Leave over at Visit for more posts on maternity leave from August 3- 15th.

I had always wanted to work for the Government. To me there was something appealing about the idea of serving my country and delivering services to Canadians. (Whether or not it is everything I hoped it would be is best left for another post. Probably one I will never write.) What I didn't really think about when I joined the government was about the benefits that it would offer to me as my employer. It is pure luck on my part that I ended up with an employer that is trying to lead by example and show other organizations how to support employees financially during the first year of their child's life.

As a Canadian citizen I am entitled to receive 55% of my insurable earnings, up to maximum of $447 a week, for 50 weeks as part of maternity and parental (which can be taken my the mother or father) leave. As an employee of the Government of Canada I receive an additional weekly allowance to augment the $447 to 93% of my weekly income. What this means is that I am being paid close to my full salary for almost a year to stay at home and care for my baby.

In addition, the Government of Canada provides its employees with up to five years of unpaid leave for the care and nurturing of pre-school age children. This means that I could stay at home for up to five years with one child under five. This leave is one that the husband and I have and will take advantage of. (More on that in my next maternity leave post.)

While these leave provisions could be considered a means of rewarding employees for their past service, I also think they are excellent recruitment and retention strategies. With the exodus of baby boomers across all industries the public service is competing with the private sector to recruit from a small pool of talent. Maternity and parental leave benefits are one way of standing out among the competition. It is also a way of encouraging employees that do want to take some time off to spend with their young families to consider returning to their old jobs. This is an excellent way of holding onto corporate memory and investments that have been made in employees through training and work-experience. (Can you tell my other job is in Human Resources?)

I have had two year-long paid maternity leaves now and I count myself lucky. Very lucky.


  1. I know a LOT of people who aimed for gov't jobs for just that reason - it's amazing to have such great top up for your year off!

  2. Thanks for joining in on the carnival! I'm so glad to have your contributions. :)

    I think that the top-up is great, but the 5 years of unpaid leave are really exemplary. There are many of us who would like to return to work, but maybe not right at one year. Having the flexibility to extend your leave is fabulous. I'm eager to hear more about what your plans are.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post and thoughts on maternity leave.

    Unlike many people I was happy to return to work after 4 months and let my husband take advantage of the parental leave benefits. That is one aspect of working for the government that I think is phenomenal! My husband has the same rights as the woman in the office next to him! I work somewhere with flex hours, where I was home a lot with both of them while still working, in my mind getting the best of both worlds.

    Now with my husband going back to work, I have adjusted my schedule so I am home Sunday - Tuesday and our son only has to go to daycare three days a week.

  4. This is the reason I am in the hunt for an indeterminate position where I work now. I want that top up.

    I had to return to work when my boy was 7 months old, as my maternity and parental leave benefits with EI were coming to an end, and at 55% salary, we weren't making enough money anyways. My earning power is more than my husbands, for now, so me staying home wasn't really an option.

    I was unfortunate enough to have been given bad advice by an EI telephone rep to leave a regular EI claim open while I worked on short contracts, and it piggy-backed onto my year of mat leave benefits.

    I don't regret going back to work (a contract came quickly, I was lucky beyond measure), our son is very happy in his day care and the transition at 7 months was so easy for him. But for the next child, I want to take a year off, to fully be with that baby, and potentially spend more time with my (future) older son.

    We are blessed to have this time and benefit. So many mom's I met at my weekly doctor checkups before my son was born discovered they didn't even qualify for EI, and were worried about money and how to pay the bills.

  5. WOW that is great perk-
    wish i knew about that when i was job hunting!!!

  6. Wow, that is awesome! How great that you get to stay home with your sweet little one! I'm following you from MBC! :)

  7. AWESOME!!! Makes me want to be a Canadian!! :)
    I love being a SAHM! I worked until I gave birth to my first, then never went back after my 2 month (!!!?) maternity leave was up! After 3 kids...I've never looked back! :)

  8. Ooh! Lucky you. I worked for the gov't too but in health care so I don't think the same applies. i.e., they didn't hold my job for me when I couldn't return after my mat leave plus one year LOA. Hm. I should look into this some more.