Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Preparing for Maternity Leave in Canada

I recently announced that we are expecting Baby #2, and with that comes all the preparations. We will of course need to prepare for actually welcoming baby, but today I am going to focus on how we are preparing for my maternity leave of eighteen months.

18 Months?!
In January 2018, the Canadian government increased the amount of parental leave available to birthing or adoptive parents. The monetary amount did not change, so you can elect to receive a higher bi-weekly payment for twelve months or a lower bi-weekly payment for eighteen months. Once you start receiving the benefits, you cannot change your mind.

You have the option of taking the entire amount yourself, or splitting it with your husband or co-parent. Additionally, they later added that your husband or co-parent can take 5-8 weeks above and beyond the amount available to one person without shortening your time available.

I’m no expert on this, so please check out this link for more information.

As mentioned, I live in Canada and I also work at a great employer that provides compensation for maternity leave above and beyond what is available to all qualifying Canadians through Employment Insurance. This is a great privilege and I do not approach this blessing lightly.

Even with the great maternity and parental leave provisions and the top-up from my employer, I am still going to be receiving a reduced wage for the first year, and then only the Employment Insurance for the last six months. This is something to give thought to, and save for ahead of time if necessary.

From our experience with my last maternity leave, the amount that I receive is plenty for the first year, so we haven’t needed to save anything extra for this portion. Things will balance out because I will not be at work, incurring related expenses (paying for parking, buying professional clothing, lunches and coffee out more frequently), and we will not be sending Isabelle to daycare as frequently. I also found we were better about meal prep and planning because I had more time to devote to it, so I plan to put some emphasis on that and foster those habits as well.

What we need to be prepared for, however, is the last six months of my maternity leave. The amount I will be receiving is significantly less than I usually earn, so we are saving for that time. Thankfully, some large monthly payments will finish before the amount I receive is reduced, which is a large part of our plan.

Ideally, we would like to get to the point that we can budget off of my husband’s salary only and treat mine as optional, but we aren’t quite there yet. Hopefully by the next maternity leave!

In order to receive the Employment Insurance and my top-up, I have to complete the paperwork. The link I shared above is a good start, or talk to your Finance or Compensation department. I have a great Compensation Advisor who walked me through the process last time and will again this time.

I'm sure there is probably more I could or should be doing to prepare for maternity leave, but these are the big items. If you have taken maternity leave or will be soon, how did you prepare?

P.S. When writing this post I realized that I have a lot more practical tips for preparing to welcome a new baby, so stay tuned for my next post about the schedule and organization side of things.

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