How to take paternity and maternity leave at the same time

This summer, I am taking 2 months off work (paternity leave) to spend with my wonderful wife and our two beautiful sons. While fathers taking paternity leave is starting to become a bit more common, what surprises people is that I am taking this time off concurrently while my wife is also at home. Most people believe that if the father is taking paternity leave then the mother has to return to work, which might be why most Canadian fathers are still not taking advantage of this option. The reality is both parents are entitled to 37 weeks off work to take care of their newborns, it’s just that the language of the law is a bit confusing, and there is one somewhat important caveat.

To understand how the law works we need to first distinguish between the two different types of leaves.

Maternity/Pregnancy Leave

The first type of leave is called Maternity Leave by Service Canada (the people who handle EI payments) and Pregnancy Leave by the Ontario Ministry of Labour (similarly for other provinces, but I’ll focus on Ontario since that’s where I live). This leave is 17 weeks long and is only available to biological birth mothers. The leave can be taken up to 17 weeks before the child’s due date all the way up to the date of birth, but not after. This leave is often “topped up” by employers to a certain percentage of the employees salary.

Parental Leave

This leave can be taken at any time in the 52 weeks following the child’s birth and is between 35 and 37 weeks. It is available to both parents even at the same time. The Ministry of Labour website states:

Parental leave is not part of pregnancy leave and so a birth mother may take both pregnancy and parental leave. In addition, the right to a parental leave is independent of the right to pregnancy leave. For example, a birth father could be on parental leave at the same time the birth mother is on either her pregnancy leave or parental leave.

The leave is shortened from 37 to 35 weeks for the biological mother, if she already took the 17 weeks off for maternity/pregnancy leave, for a total maximum 52 weeks off. This leave is generally not topped-up by employers, something that catches many people by surprise in the second half of their leave. The drop in income from the topped up maternity leave to the EI-only parental leave can be very significant for many families.

How will taking paternity leave affect my prospects at my employer?

Some fathers may be afraid to take paternity leave in case it adversely affects their career. It’s important to know that fathers taking parental leave have the exact same rights as mothers taking maternity leave. This means:

  • The right to reinstatement – You have to get your job back , or a similar one if yours is no longer available, at the same salary or higher.
  • The right to be free from penalty – This means the employer cannot punish you in any way for taking the leave.
  • The right to continue to participate in benefit plans – Your employer must continue paying their own share of the premiums on your insurance.

Why doesn’t everyone do this?

Most fathers don’t know that it’s even an option. While splitting parental leave between the mother and father is gaining in popularity, most families don’t seem to be aware that they can take parental leave at the same time.

How do I get paid?

There is always a catch right?  While the Ministry of Labour allows concurrent parental leaves and protects both parents, Service Canada will not pay both parents EI. The following note can be found on the Service Canada website.

Can both parents apply for EI parental benefits?

Yes, but they have to share the benefits. In total, there are 35 weeks of parental benefits available to eligible parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.

There are many ways you can decide to use your parental leave. For instance, one of the parents can take the entire 35 weeks of benefits, or both parents can share them.

This means if you both want to stay home and take care of the newborn only one of you gets paid EI (Note: to clarify, it IS possible to both get paid EI at the same time, but the total of 35 weeks is shared between the two parents regardless, so it does not really make sense to do so unless you both plan to go back to work early). Since the maternity leave is often topped-up by your employer while the parental leave is not it’s best to have the mother claim the entire EI amount. This turns the fathers paternity leave into an unpaid leave.

In summary

While fathers are fully protected to stay home with their wife and newborn for up to 35 weeks after the baby is born, this is not a cheap option. Since only one parent can get paid EI at any one time, taking paternity leave requires some very careful financial planning. It’s important to save up not only for the paternity leave itself, but also for the reduced income after all the mothers employer top-ups run out.

I know it seems difficult to save up for a month or two off work and then have to deal with a reduced income afterwards. However, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and I’ve done it now twice, with both my sons. If you think about it, it’s really just a matter of making this time off a priority in your life. The EI that one of you will receive is worth $524 a week based on $49,500 a year salary. This means most people will get $2,270 a month from EI alone. Assuming a generous family budget of $5,000 a month, and no employer top up for the mother, this means you would need to save $2,730 per month off.

While $2,730 is not a trivial amount it is not more than a single week vacation to Mexico (2 people),  far less than even a minor house renovation, and probably the same amount as the delivery fees you pay when you pick up your new car. It might only require getting a bit creative on your baby room expenses and toys. What would you rather have, a quartz counter-top in your bathroom that will be out of style 2 years after you install it, or a once in a lifetime experience spending a summer with your family?

You know what I would choose each and every single time!

Spending time with my son on my paternity leave

Enjoying Paternity Leave at Lake Huron

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70 thoughts on “How to take paternity and maternity leave at the same time

  1. Anonymous

    Our baby was born in March and we’re both paid at home. I’m not sure your interpretation of EI applies to all cases.

    1) pregnancy “leave can be taken up to 17 weeks before the child’s due date all the way up to the date of birth, but not after.”

    I received all 17 weeks of pregnancy leave after baby was born. 6 of those weeks husband took parental leave. We each received max EI.

    Aside: I would need to check Stats Canada but average salary isn’t $50,000/yr (especially for a woman, sadly). Still, I receive max because it’s based on best average weekly salary. Had I not had a child my earnings right now would be zero (as I need to take unpaid weeks in August as stated in employment contract). So EI for both of us actually increases our investment income/ability to increase net worth!

    2) “While the Ministry of Labour allows concurrent parental leaves and protects both parents, Service Canada will not pay both parents EI”.

    Again, we both received EI. My husband took a second 6 week leave to enjoy summer with us at home. He added 2 weeks paid vacation to that as well.

    3) you also note that pregnancy/maternity leave is usually topped up. This was not the case for us so perhaps a note for Canadians to check their collective agreememts/contracts. Yet, in an age of independent contract, part-time, non-union, temporary work, fewer Canadians have this benefit.

    Bottom line: 2 previously working parents can stay at home and receive EI from Service Canada. And, it can seem like more than 55% of previous pay when one eliminates costs of commuting, meals out, networking, work attire, office donations/gifts etc. Add in new Child care benefits (federal and if fortunate, provincial/territorial), and a couple can net $4300/mth for their first child.

    In our case, receiving pay in weeks we otherwise wouldn’t helped immensely. Also, we both took break from university and deferred $10,000+ in costs. Still, having a baby turned out to not only be the greatest personal decision but a surprisingly powerful financial one as well.

  2. kyle

    I’m currently on leave with my wife as well. It is possible to both be on ei at the same time just not to both be on parental leave. My wife is on maternity and I am on parental. After 12 weeks off I will head back to work and she will continue to use up the rest of the maternity then switch to parental.

  3. Unassuming Banker Post author

    First of all thank you for your comment and I apologize it took me this long to respond. You are absolutely right that both spouses can collect EI concurrently. However, in that case you both share the 35 weeks of parental leave. This means if both parents stay home for a portion of the maternity leave then the wife will not get the full 52 weeks she would otherwise. For example, if the husband takes 6, then the wife will get 46 (52 – 6). This means you then have a choice of either going 6 weeks unpaid or starting work earlier. For me and my wife her going to work early was a non-starter, and 6 weeks unpaid at the end is no different from 6 weeks unpaid right now, which is why i didn’t consider that as being paid concurrently. Technically though, you are absolutely correct that it’s possible to both get compensated at the same time out of the total pool of 52 weeks off.

  4. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Kyle, Thank you for your comment. I think it’s great what you are doing! There is nothing better than spending a summer bonding with your newborn. I’ve done it twice now, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I assume you know that your wives total paid EI leave will be reduced to 40 weeks from 52 because of the 12 weeks you claimed on EI?

  5. jamie

    Great Article,
    This was extremely helpful in understanding the difference between the leaves. I have a question maybe you can help clarify, My Wife gave birth and was on leave as of September 1, 2015. She was on maternity leave (17weeks) and now is considered on parental leave. I would like to take 10 weeks of the parental leave before she goes back to work. when i apply for the EI benefit, will her weekly EI payments stop? I will require the EI benefits in order to claim my SUB payments from my employer. so essentially she will use 42weeks (40 + waiting) and I will use 10?
    Does this make sense?
    Thank you

  6. caboud

    hi there- I’m wondering if you know if leave has to be taken concurrently? We’ll use the full year but I’m taking the first 6 months off, then we’ll have a few weeks were neither myself nor husband will be on leave as I transition back to work and he transitions out, and then he’ll finish the last 6 months. Are we able to stop & start without leave being exactly back to back?

  7. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Jamie,

    Sorry for the incredibly late response, it’s been an extremely busy summer and I have not had a chance to keep up with UB as much as I would like. I’m assuming you already figured it out, but yes, once you start collecting EI, her benefits will have to stop. The government is only willing to sponsor one person at a time through EI payments. Though if your employer is willing to offer you SUB payments for Paternity Leave, then it’s basically free money you would be leaving on the table if you don’t take this opportunity. I hope you took advantage and had a great summer with your little one!


  8. James B

    Hi UB,
    I am hoping you can clarify my situation. My wife and I are both employed. My wife would like to take the full year off with the maternity/parental allowance. Can I take unpaid parental leave (ie. not notify or claim EI) for a period of time, which would then not have it eat into my wife’s full year of leave?

  9. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for your comment.
    Yes, absolutely, if you can afford it you can both be on paternal leave at the same time and your employers have to guarantee both your jobs. Only one of you can claim EI though. I did that myself for two years in a row (over 2 months off each time) and I highly recommend it. It’s created a wonderful bond between me and my sons. You also have a full year from the time your child is born to take the leave so I’d suggest the spring or summer months.

  10. Anastasia

    Hi there,

    My husband is planning on taking 2 months off in the summer for parental leave while I’m off, but he gets a top up from work and I don’t. Can I stop mine so he gets the EI and top up fron work for 2 months and I will get back on EI after he is done.
    Thanks Anastasia

  11. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Anastasia,

    First of all congratulations to you and your husband on your new/coming bundle of joy 🙂

    I can’t say that I know the full answer for certain but here is what I do know.

    The top up is entirely up to the employer so I would ask the employer whether they are OK with topping up your husbands 2 months. Most employers only top up Maternity leave so I would triple check.

    The EI itself can be stopped and restarted. This is from the Service Canada website:

    If one spouse decides to return to work after taking a few weeks of parental leave, but then realizes a few weeks later that he or she would prefer to stay home with the child, he or she is still entitled to the unused weeks of parental benefits, as long as the 52-week period after the birth or adoption placement has not expired.

    However, if you stopped EI and DID NOT go back to work, I am not sure how this would be seen.

    I would definitely reach out to Service Canada and to your husbands employers HR department to confirm with them prior to making any decisions.


  12. J Whyte Appleby (@jwhyteappleby)

    May I suggest you edit this post to clarify that two parents can in fact collect EI at the same time? We were quite surprised when we read this on a number of blogs, including this one, and so we changed our plans. We obviously should have hassled Service Canada more, and Service Canada should do a better job of articulating the possibility of overlap, but this stings a lot, as my husband took unpaid leave without applying for EI while I was off.

  13. Unassuming Banker

    Thank you for your comment. I added a note to the article to make this point clear.

    However, are you sure you missed out on EI compensation? Keep in mind that every week your husband would have collected EI would be taken out of your EI leave. In other words, if you stayed on leave for the entire 12 months, you got exactly the same amount of money you would have if he took EI. The only difference is timing.

    Either way I think it’s great you’ve decided to do this! All the best to you and your husband and your new bundle of joy 🙂

  14. Cindy Jackson

    I have a question. I’m pregnant and the father and I aren’t together anymore but he says he’s still taking some of my paternity leave is he allowed?

  15. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Cindy, unfortunately I am not a lawyer, and I think you really need to speak to one. My gut feeling is he can’t just take time away from you, but I strongly encourage you to get professional advice.

  16. Lovie Stefanac

    Hi, I don’t have a question (since you covered everything in your blog and some were answered in the comments section) but I just want to say what a great article! My husband and I find this very helpful and we just want to thank you for the information! Thanks!

  17. Justin Fabian

    Hello, I am still confused and hopefully you are able to clarify things with me. My girlfriend is pregnant and is due on september. She’ll probably take her maternity leave start of september. Will the 52-week start then or will it start when the baby is born? Also, when does she have to apply for EI? I also want to take 6 weeks on her 40th week just so my girlfriend and I will be off at the same time. Will that be possible? And will I be able to apply for EI?

  18. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Justin,
    This depends on how she fills out the maternity leave paperwork. It’s currently possible to start EI up to 8 weeks early. Her employers HR department should be able to help. Also keep in mind that it’s possible to get paid disability leave prior to birth that doesn’t cut into the 52 weeks, for example if she’s having Braxton hicks contractions and a doctor writes her a note.

    There should be no problem taking the last 6 weeks off together just make sure the paperwork is clear that you want to do so.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  19. Warren

    Thanks for the great article.
    Please help us in this scenario…
    My wife and myself both work for different employers and both have separate collective agreements (i,e will refer to as A/B for this question) that provide the topups. We both want to maximize the leaves and top-up benefits in addition to EI.
    If one parent maxes out the EI along with their respective collective agreement “A” top up, can the other still receive their respective collective agreement “B” topup benefit although EI wouldn’t apply to this parent? (i.e for the other parent the 93% topup becomes reduced by minusing the 55% EI?)
    Our goal is to maximize leave as well as take maximum advantage of the top up benefit. Please advise if this is the best way or if you suggest a better way.
    Thank you.

  20. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Warren,

    These policies differ greatly from employer to employer. In my case the top up was only avaliable for maternity leave, not parental leave, which automatically excludes the father. It means I was unable to use it. However an earlier commenter says they were able to get top ups for both parents.

    In general I think you need to be on EI to be eligible for the employers to ups but again that could differ.

    Remember that the top up plans are private and as such there are no laws governing them. It’s completely discretionary in the employers part as to whether they offer them at all. Your best bet is to contact your HR departments regarding the exact rules so you don’t end up missing out!

    Regardless what you find out I highly encourage taking the time to spend together as a family if you can afford it. It has really helped me build a strong relationship with both my sons and created lifelong memories.


  21. MTK

    This is super helpful! The government websites are not the easiest to navigate through, thanks a lot!

    To summarize:

    1) yes, both parents can be on leave concurrently, whether it is maternity/parental or parental/parental

    2) the max EI the family will get is for 52 weeks. Although it is possible for both parents to get EI at the same time, it just means the period you would get the EI for is shortened.

  22. Unassuming Banker Post author

    I’m glad you found the article helpful! I invite you to subscribe to the blogs mailing list or follow me on social media.

  23. Kristen

    Great article. I actually had contacted Service Canada for some clarification and they have said the same thing that your article states. They also mentioned that my husband will not be subject to the waiting period as my EI claim will waive that for him as well. One more great thing to know :). I think it is so important for father’s to spend time bonding with their newborn as well so your article is refreshing and appreciated. My only concern is with filing the EI claim for him. My mat leave will start when I have the baby. I guess I wonder how quickly they will process his paperwork as I don’t think that we can submit is until the baby comes? or was your experience different. Can he also apply in advance? I can see how if I were having a scheduled C section that he would be able to give an exact date. When my husband advised his HR dept of his intentions they tried to tell him that he is not eligible. It’s unfortunate that large companies do not understand that this is the case.

  24. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Kristen,

    Thank you for the kind words!

    I think it’s great that you both decided to spend some time with the baby together. I feel it’s great bonding experience for everyone, including the spouses!

    It is quite annoying that most companies try to discourage the father from taking a leave. I don’t know if it’s out of ignorance or intent but it’s disappointing all the same.

    As far as your question regarding applying for EI, I would expect he should be able to apply ahead of time, but I would try reaching out to them directly and asking.

    I didn’t take any EI because I wanted my wife to have the full 12 months, and if the mother is planning to take the full 12 months, there is no benefit for the father to take EI other than getting the money slightly earlier. The total stays the same. Unfortunately I have no personal experience here but please do post a response if you are able to get an answer. It might help other readers in the same boat.

    All the best to your burgeoning family! 🙂


  25. Tara

    I have just finished my maternity leave and am now starting the parental leave. I am taking the top up from my employer so I am due back to work after 32 weeks are up. My husband was planning on taking the remaining 18 weeks.
    I just found out that I am pregnant again and will deliver 2 weeks before my 12 month period is up. (yes, my babies will be 50 weeks apart). Do you know what the rules are for back to back maternity leaves? My employer doesn’t seem to know and are doing a lot of investigating at whether or not I need to be back for just 600 hours (4 months) or the 6 months that my collective agreement states (for those taking the top up). There doesn’t seem to be a clause about back to back maternity leaves.

    2nd question, Can my husband work alternate weeks to use up his parental leave? Work 2 weeks on then off on leave for 2 weeks? Or does he need to take them consecutively?

    3rd question. Since my daughter was born at the end of March is that when the 52 week period ends whether or not we have exhausted or benefits or not?

  26. Sean

    Hi thanks for this article, I did find it helpful as I was a bit confused reading different sources.

    My wife has no top up and does not max out her EI. I haven’t figured out exactly how much she will get yet. I would max out the Ei benefit.

    Strictly speaking in financial reasons, it would make sense for me to take as much of the EI weeks out of the shared bucket as possible right?

    My wife is thinking of not returning to her job after, so if this is the case, to maximize our benefits I should take all of the parental leave. Is this correct?

  27. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Sean,

    Yes, that would make sense to me. You should take as much EI as you are willing to be out of work for. Of course you cannot collect EI for paternity (or any other reason) if you are working, so you would have to make sure your EI payment alone is sufficient to get you through that period when both of you are not working.

    Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment!


  28. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Tara,

    Wow, this one is tough, and I don’t know how much I can answer, but I’ll try my best.

    1) I believe you don’t need to be back at all to be eligible for maternity leave. You are still considered “employed” even while on maternity/paternity leave. However, you will have to have accumulated 600 hours to get the EI benefits. The top-up is likely governed by your collective agreement.

    2) If your husband is not planning to receive EI then I believe that should be OK. Please contact the ministry of labour to confirm. Also, I’m assuming your husbands employer would be fine with this. If not, technically they cannot do anything about it, but in practice I’d imagine employers would not be happy to be forced into an arrangement like this. Something to consider if he plans to stay there for a while.

    3) I actually have no idea on this one, sorry. I would suggest you contact Service Canada for EI information and Ministry of Labour for leave information.

    Thank you for reading and thanks for your comment!


  29. John

    Hello there,

    What a great article, the directions for maternity and parental leave are confusing on most resources.

    To ensure I have this right. ..

    I was under the impression that the mothers maternity leave had to be exhausted (17 week’s) before a father could avail of parental leave, but from the above that appears not to be the case.

    For instance, I am taking about 4 weeks parental leave and claiming EI is will my wife, we are aware this will reduce her EI entitlement by 4 weeks as a consequence.

    Is it in fact the case that I can commenced my parental leave whilst she is still on maternity and that I don’t need to wait for her maternity period to end?

    Thanks again for taking the time to guide other exhausted parents through this maze!

  30. Dhara

    Hi UB,

    Thanks for this article. . It has been very helpful to understand the maternity and parental benefits. .. I still want to clarify one point. ..I am on maternity leave and receive EI .. Both me and my husband want to use paternity leave for full 35 weeks. Can I be on unpaid parental leave for 35 weeks while my husband is also taking 35 weeks off but he claims for the EI

    Thank You

  31. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Dhara,

    Yes, this should be possible. You’re both allowed to take leave at the same time but only one can take EI.

    Thanks for reading and commenting!

  32. Deb

    If the baby’s father works contracts and does not py into EI, am I still able to share my parental leave with him? Could we take the shared time concurrently and have me return to full time work early (at the end of of the split time)?

  33. Deb

    If the baby’s father works contracts and does not pay into EI, am I still able to share my parental leave with him? Could we take the shared time concurrently and have me return to full time work early (at the end of of the split time)?

  34. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Deb,

    Unfortunately your husband is not entitled to any EI so you might as well take the entire 12 months of EI yourself. As far as time off, since he does contracts, he can take as little or as much unpaid time as he wants. There would not be any protection for him beyond anything he can negotiate forward dated since contracts are time bound and not permanent by their nature.

    Hope this clarifies things somewhat and thank you for your comment!


  35. Carlo

    I’m a little late to the party but you have an incorrect statement in the article:

    “The first type of leave is called Maternity Leave by Service Canada …. The leave can be taken up to 17 weeks before the child’s due date all the way up to the date of birth, but not after.”

    You can take 15 weeks maternity leave as early as 8 weeks before due date and ending as late as 17 weeks after birth.


  36. Daniela


    I am due Oct. 2nd, at which time I will begin my maternity leave of 17 weeks. During that same time, can my husband take 12 weeks of his part of parental leave (even though technically parental leave Begins after the 17 weeks of maternity leave)? If so, will he be able to collect EI for his parental leave while I collect my EI for maternity leave? (At the same time)?

    Thank you,

  37. Due it March


    I just want to see if you can clarify if this will work. I want to take 17 weeks of parental leave and 31 weeks or parental leave and would like my husband to use the other 4. we would be off at the same time for 4 weeks. Will the government still pay EI to both of us or does it automatically stop? How do they know I am not intending to take the full 35 weeks and that we are sharing at the same time? I am able to use my 2018 vacation before going back in 2019 so for me, it makes sense for us to both be off and be paid. Mainly because I want to take the baby to my native country and my husband would otherwise be laid off and on EI seasonally getting the same amount of money from EI but with parental leave, he can still claim while we are overseas something he can’t-do on regular EI.

  38. Zen

    Hi UB
    I don’t know if you can help here as am not in Ontario but Nunavut. my wife gave birth in April and did not take any ei before birth though she stopped work in March. She went back to work this October and I am planning to go on paternity leave from January to April. Do you think I can get full ei for the whole period I will be on leave as my wife was paid from that April toll this October less 2 weeks.
    Also when my wife was filling out her ei application, she indicated that I will not be taking any of the leave, but plans later changed. Do we need to write any letter to service Canada to say that we want to share the leave now? Now that she started work, does she need to inform service Canada to stop her ei? Thanks

  39. jen

    hi i have a question im in maternity leave now almost 12 weeks im just wondering if my husband can apply for a paternity leave(with pay) after my 1 yr leave for a maternity, because i heard they gonna extend the maternity/peternity leave for 18months so he (my husband) can use the 6months while im going back to work.
    thank you😘


  40. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi Jen,

    You have the option of taking 12 or 18 months but the total amount of money you receive is the same. Meaning if you elect to take 18 months, you have to let EI know, and they will pay you less per month.

    I’m not 100% sure if you can change this midway through your maternity leave though. You’d have to contact them.


  41. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi there,

    You definitely should be informing EI if she is back at work as it’s illegal to work and receive benefits at the same time. I am not sure about how things work in Nunavut but here in Ontario you would be entitled to share the parental leave and therefore should be eligible for EI. Is there a service Canada office anywhere nearby you? Would be easiest to go in and arrange it at one.


  42. Unassuming Banker Post author

    Hi there, only one person can claim paternity leave related EI at the same time. Assuming you both try to claim for the same baby and household it will be pretty easy for the government to catch 🙂 Since you have vacation why not just use that while your husband takes the EI?

    As a side note, it’s completely possible to have one parent on paternity leave EI and the other on EI due to a layoff.


  43. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Carlo,

    This statement refers to the pregnancy leave in Ontario which can in fact be taken up to 17 weeks before the child’s due date. Again, it’s different rules for receiving EI benefits (Service Canada) vs. being eligible for time off work (Ontario Ministry of Labour). Therefore you can commence your pregnancy leave 17 weeks prior to the due date, but you will start receiving benefits 8 weeks before. In addition, the pregnancy leave itself is 17 weeks, while the maternity leave is 15 weeks. Very confusing I know.

    Thank you for your comment!


  44. Banker in ONT

    Hey UB,

    I’ve been reading this article for sometime now, trying to stay on top of what needs to be done. I was always under the assumption that only 1 parent can be on a leave when a baby is born. Thank you for clearing this up for us!

    I work at a F.I and so does my wife, both different banks.

    Just so we know that this is how it works, can you please correct me or let me know if it is indeed correct?

    My wife goes on MAT leave first, followed by PAT leave. She has elected to take the new extended 18 month leave.

    Out of which, I will either be taking 2 or 4 weeks as my employer will do a top-up. I also want to note, her employer will also do a top-up for her as well. Will my top-up effect hers? or how does that work?

    Also, once both parents are on the PAT leave together. How does the payment structure work? is it just 1 payment for 1 family? or are both parents receiving two separate EI payments? Will those payments become reduced if both parents are on a PAT leave together? Even though my employer will top-up my time away?

    Hope my questions made sense, lol.

    Thank you UB!

  45. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Banker,

    Unfortunately only one person can collect any type of payment at one time. Both of you can go on leave at the same time, with all the job protection that leave offers, however only one of you will be able to collect EI during that time, and therefore only one will be eligible for any top-ups. The definition of top-up is that it’s extra money above EI. No EI means no top-up.


  46. Temujin

    Hi UB,

    I am just wondering and couldn’t find any info on service Canada web site. My wife has flexible work schedule since she is a University Prof. She can easily manage not to take maternity leave on her due date. However We are considering to take parental leave.both together at the same time.

    Q1: Is Maternity leave compulsory? Does she has right not to take maternity but apply parental leave instead after baby born?
    Q2: Can she start her parental leave 14 weeks after baby born and apply to claim EI on her name (since she has top up from her employer) for full 35 weeks parental leave? at the same time I will be on the same EI form for parental leave for 35 weeks without any EI payment but keeping my rights to go back work after?

    Thank you in advance and for this great blog!


  47. JA

    Hey unassuming banker,

    What a great article, and THANKS for sharing. I’ve been doing a lot of research on this. My wife is currently on leave and I’m planning on taking 2 months off in the summer. Now, my employers does a top up, as long as I’m the one collecting EI, not my wife. Since my wife is collecting EI NOW, do you know is it possible for us to switch EI from my wife to me for 2 months in the summer, and then when I come back to work, switch the EI over to my wife again? it sounds kind of confusing, so even trying to explain it over the phone to the EI people, it’s not easy.
    Hopefully your own experience know a thing or two about this?

    Thanks so much!


  48. Mary

    Your article is very helpful but like others commented you should make it clear that both parents can be on paternal leave and will receive 2 ei payments

  49. K

    Hi UB,
    Thanks for your article. I am currently on maternity leave and expecting in 2 weeks. My husband plans to take the first 4 months of our babies life off of work, at the same time as me. My question is, if we have decided to take a reduced total of 8 months leave (instead of 12) can we both receive EI payments for those 4 months (June-Sept)? Then I receive EI payments for the remaining 4 months of reduced leave? He has submitted written notice to his workplace already, but when do we apply for his parental leave with service Canada? How do we inform them of our request to reduce the time and increase the pay? Sorry for all the questions. Thanks, K

  50. thedylangordon

    Hi there, a bit confused by the recent comments that “Both of you can go on leave at the same time…however only one of you will be able to collect EI during that time” or the like.

    As other commenters have pointed out, both parents can definitely collect EI leave benefits at the same time.

    For instance, the birth mother could collect EI maternity benefit, and the birth father EI parental benefit. Both parents can also collect EI parental benefit at the same time. As in they each get a weekly cheque up to 55%/33% of their EI insurable earnings.

    The total number of weeks of benefit you and your partner are together entitled to is limited, as you’ve pointed out. However, technically if you are disciplined you could get yourself a few $$ more by collecting the benefit as quickly as possible and putting it in something interest-bearing vs. letting the government hold onto the money for you for 6/9/12/18 months. Also note that the 18 month 33% payout gets you an extra $1000 or so.

  51. Sam

    Follow up from Banker + UB’s post I have two question if anyone could help. Still a little confused.

    Both my wife and I have some sort of top up from employers for a # of weeks. The intention is, after birth, she’s on maternity+paternity leave for 12 months, I’ll be on paternity for say 4 weeks.

    1) Some posters have suggested that both parents can concurrently apply for EI. If that’s true, then both of us would receive our top-up, even though we are getting EI at the same time?

    However, UB’s last post suggests this not be the case – “only one person can collect any type of payment at one time”. If this is true then I’d be taking completely unpaid paternity leave?

    2) Since EI for the family is capped at 52 weeks, if i take 4 weeks at the beginning, my wife will not receive EI for her last 4 weeks of the paternity leave. To be clear this only affects EI, but not her leave right? she will just have 4 weeks of completely unpaid leave?

  52. Jeff

    Hi Banker,

    First off, thank you for this article! It clears up a lot.

    Now for my question. Our baby is going to be born in June 2019, and my wife will be taking the extended 78 weeks (18 months) off, which includes first the 17 weeks mat leave and then 61 weeks parental leave. Correct me if I’m wrong, but with the new “use it or lose it” option starting in March 2019, that 61 becomes 69 if we choose to share those parental-leave weeks, but the max any one parent can take is 61 (which would leave me with 8 weeks).

    I’m planning on taking those 8 weeks off as soon as my child is born. Will both my wife and I be paid (33% of our individual regular wages) for those 8 weeks? And will be wife still get the full 78 weeks off (and of course those 78 weeks paid at 33% of her normal wage)? I just want to make sure that with these new laws starting next year she still gets her full 18 months off and we both still get paid to be off work.

    Thank you,


  53. Kristine

    Hi UB,

    I stumbled upon this blog while googling for information on maternity and parental leaves! Such a great blog to read and the comments are helpful as well.
    I’m hoping you will have some insights to my situation.
    I will be going on mat leave in August, however I will not be taking the entire year off. I plan to return to work when baby is 8 months old.
    My question is, can my husband go on parental leave for 2 months and claim EI at the same time that I am on maternity leave and on EI as well? Since I will be returning back to work early and not using up the 52 weeks of EI benefits, will it be possible for us to go on leave together and claim EI concurrently?

    Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you soon:)

  54. melissatracyc


    I am new here, and I believe I got the jist of how this works. I’ve already taken 2 maternity/parental leaves in the past, but never knew I could have had my husband take some with me. We are planning on having another, hopefully early next year and want to plan for it well in advance.

    So that being said, this is our plan:
    I will go on Maternity Leave and my husband will take 4 weeks Parental leave paid at the same time (when the baby is born – so that I have some help with the littles) – I’m fine with him taking 4 weeks away from me.

    Could he take an additional 2-4 weeks again later on?


    same plan as above, but with the changes to extended leave, if I take the new 61 week extended leave – do i have to take the full amount, or can I just take a portion of that?

    As in: Take 17 week Maternity Leave, 35 week Parental leave – but take the new extended Parental leave and only take an additional 8 weeks? totalling 43 weeks of Parental Leave which I would give 4-8 weeks to my husband. (so that way I can still take a full 12 months off, but give him the ability to take time off with me paid)

    Hope that makes sense and hope you are able to help me figure this out.


  55. Maymoon

    Hello UB,

    Even after reading all the articles and comments I’m still unclear about something. How does the application process for the maternity/parental leave work? I’m due Oct 3 and I want to take my maternity leave once the baby is born. Do I apply for that once the baby is born or in advance and if so how long in advance? Also when my 17 weeks of maternity leave are over do I apply for parental leave then or do I automatically get switched over? If I have to apply do I apply once the maternity leave is done or in advance, and if so how long in advance? Btw I’m planning to take all 52 weeks myself. My husband won’t be taking parental leave.

    I hope my question didn’t confuse you. Thank you!

  56. Karen

    Hi…I’m still very confused.

    I am due in March, and planning to take the 15 weeks of maternity leave (I don’t see 17 weeks anywhere on the canada website), followed by 34 weeks parental. Husband gets top up for 6 weeks, so going to give him the remaining 6 weeks of the shared parental leave. I get no top up. He is planning to take at lest 4 weeks right after baby is born (so while I’m on my maternity leave). Would I have to not claim E.I. for 6 weeks of my maternity leave while he’s on his leave (with top up), and then reapply for it after he goes back?

    Thank you.

  57. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Mary, Thank you for your comment! I’ve updated the article to reflect that, one thing to be careful about is that both parents receiving EI payments at the same time will shorten the overall paid time at home. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for that reason.

  58. Unassuming Banker

    Hi JA,

    Apologies that my response is likely coming too late for you, but maybe someone else could benefit from your experience? I believe this should be possible, it sounds very sensible to me, were you able to explain it to the EI folks?

  59. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Temujin, apologies for responding so late, I hope my response can help others, and maybe you could share your experience? I believe Maternity leave has to be taken prior to parental leave – and I don’t think it can be delayed or taken a later time. You can certainly go on parental leave for 35 weeks without payment, and it should not affect the time your wife is able to take, you have full rights to your job back when you return.

  60. Unassuming Banker

    Hi K, I don’t know the exact process, in my own case my wife received all the benefits for the full period, and I took time off unpaid with my job guaranteed for when I get back. Were you able to do what you wanted? and are you able to share your experience to the benefit of other readers?

  61. Unassuming Banker

    Hi there, interesting, have you been able to actually do that? There are other comments where people are wondering if this possible – all I was trying to point out was that the total amount of money stays the same no matter how you “slice” it

  62. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Sam,

    There does appear to be some confusion on this – the bottom line is that the maximum amount of money you are entitled to receive does not change regardless how you split up your leave. For example, if both you and your wife collect 6 months of EI (assuming you chose the 12 month option), your wife will no longer be able to receive any EI after the 6 months are up. Whether you can actually do that I am not sure, but I am sure it’s not possible to increase the overall benefit. Were you able to do this?

  63. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Jeff, thank you for your comment, unfortunately I am not keeping on top of the law changes as I’m not expecting any more little additions to my family at the moment 😉 Are you able to share your experience with other readers?

  64. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Melissa, first of all apologies for not responding in time, I hope you were able to execute your plan. Regarding your first scenario, I believe it should be possible to split the leave any way you want, with you husband going on leave, going back to work, and then going on leave again – what I am not sure about is whether he can start and stop EI payments like this. Would you mind sharing your experience for the benefit of other readers?

  65. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Arante,

    Thanks for your comment, I adjusted that statement in the article, and it has been clarified in the subsequent comments, you can take EI at the same time but it would mean shortening the overall time you receive payments. In other words, the amount will stay exactly the same.


  66. Unassuming Banker

    Hi Karen,

    I don’t think you can transfer, split or re-arrange your maternity leave – it’s pretty inflexible compared to parental leave – please reach out to the relevant authorities to confirm


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