If you’re pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant, one thing you’ll want to think about and fully understand is what being pregnant and having a baby means in relation to your work or your job. This is often referred to as your pregnancy (or parental) rights.
These rights encompass a wide variety of concepts, from the parental leave you’re entitled to after your baby is born, to how you should be treated as a pregnant person at your job, to how you’re treated after you have your baby both at work and outside of work.
Generally, you cannot be fired or demoted at your job because you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan to become pregnant. Even if you have not worked at your job for 52 weeks, you can still not be fired for being pregnant and your employer is still required to accommodate your needs while pregnant. You should also have full access to your earned benefits like vacation, sick leave, seniority, or overtime. Finally, your employer cannot tell you when to begin your maternity leave. As long as your health permits, you are permitted to work until your baby is born unless your employer cannot accommodate your needs. Pregnancy is a valid health reason to be away from work (for prenatal appointments or tests for example) but is not considered an “illness” or a “disability”.
In some cases, your pregnancy may prevent you from doing your job. If this is the case, you and your employer should work together to find accommodations that allow you to continue to work. Unless this causes undue hardship, your employer together with your input should make an effort to find a way for you to continue working. In addition, before you even get a job, you should know that it is illegal for an employer to ask if you’re pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or have a family.
Other rights include: the right to continue to participate in benefit plans and to earn credits for length of employment, length of service and seniority.
Each Province has its own human rights code or legislation governing these rights. In principle, they are all similar in their protection of your rights. While most of the issues arising from pregnancy or new parenthood occur in the workplace, there are other areas in which your rights are ensured, like housing, facilities and services.