Maternity Leave- Understanding Your Responsibility As An Employer.

As more organizations embrace diversity and inclusion, the number of women in the Canadian workforce is growing. Maternity leave is one of the key aspects of employing women employees because you have to send them on an extended paid time-off for childbirth. But employers are more than comfortable with the concept because it is about retaining the best talent for their companies.

It benefits everyone- female employees can take time off without worrying about losing their wages and employment, while employers can build on workforce engagement, satisfaction, and retention for the long haul. But it is important to understand your responsibilities towards pregnant women workers as an employer. Let us explain them in detail.

You cannot fire an employee because she is pregnant

Even before maternity leave comes into the picture, the employer has a responsibility to secure the role and employment of a pregnant employee. You cannot just fire her because she is pregnant and will take a maternity break in the future. Also, you cannot demote or terminate her during the leave period, and neither can you eliminate her role from the organization in her absence. If you do it without a valid reason other than the person’s pregnancy, you will be liable for violating the Ontario Human Rights Code. You can face a wrongful dismissal claim from the employee and will have to pay severance entitlements and additional damages.

You have to provide them a safe working environment

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for all employees, more so when they are pregnant or back after their maternity leave. While they are entitled to leaves and time off for medical appointments during and after pregnancy, you must also ensure mental well-being for them with a harassment-free workplace. You can seek advice from an expert Toronto Employment Lawyer at sultan lawyers to understand your obligations in the context of a safe workplace. It is worth getting professional guidance because you may be going against the law even without knowing it.

You have to provide them leave for the legitimate period

According to the Ontario Employment Standards Act, pregnant employees are permitted an unpaid pregnancy leave of up to 17 weeks. They are allowed 35 weeks of maternity leave after birth. Parental benefits also apply to adoptive mothers and fathers, though the leave period is up to 37 weeks total. As an employer, you have to provide them time-off and benefits for the legitimate period. Additionally, you have to ensure that they get the same environment and job role when they rejoin after the break. Returning to work is a big transition for new parents, so you need to give them a chance to get back into the routine amid the added personal responsibilities.

Being there for your employees during this challenging phase is as much an ethical responsibility as a legal duty. If you are willing to do it, you will not only be on the right side of the law but gain a loyal employee for a lifetime.

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