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If anyone has taken maternity/parental benefits, could you please explain to me how this works?

From what I've read on the EI website, it seems like you can get 50 weeks if you combine maternity and parental leave, but is maternity leave only taken while you're pregnant, and then it switches to parental leave after the baby is born, or do they let your maternity leave ride until it's up and then switch you to parental leave?

And how does "top up" work if you work for an organization that offers it?
The organization I work for offers 15 weeks of "top up" but I have no idea what that is.

If anyone can help me out at all, I would really appreciate it!
 

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You can start maternity leave while pregnant, but you don't have to. If fact, you can't start it til at least, I"m thinking maybe 7 months? but i"m not sure on that. I started mine on my due date. The lcoser to the birth you can work, the more time you have with baby.

It automatically flips over to parental leave after 15 weeks.

When you apply, you will be asked for the baby's father SIN, if you are asking for parental as well, as they don't want bith parents to collect parental leave benefits. So parents do split the time, with mom taking maternity leave, and dad takaing some or all of the parental leave.

I had no access to the father's SIN, so i just told them that, and had no problems.

There is a 2 week waiting period at the beginning of the claim for which you do not recieve benefit, and if you have any money coming in (GST, child support, child tax benefit etc don't count) it is deducted form your forst cheque. If you do no anticipate receiveing income you won't have to file reports.

The initial application is a hassle (should be able to do online, or at the EI office &they can help you), but once it's set up it's great. You can have the money direct deposited.

As for the top up thing, that is not deducted, as far as I know. Any EI worker should be able to tell you for sure. EI is like 55% of your regualr pay (more if you are low enough income), so some employers, (like yours) top it up so you get what you normally would.

I think it typically takes like a month or more to get the first payment form EI.
 

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The benefits are 55% of your salary up to a maximum of 39,000 annual salary (at least that was the max the last time I was on mat leave) If your salary is over 39,000 you will only receive 55% of the max salary limit. Your company top-up policy will explain whether they top up 100% of your current salary or 80% or whatever. You should be aware that some companies that top up will claw it back if you don't return to work following the end of your maternity leave. Just something to verify. My understanding is that the top-up does not affect your EI benefit - but I was never topped up so I can't report first-hand knowledge.
 

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Okay, I received top up so I can verify that it will not in any way affect your EI - that's really the whole point of it - it is a program for your employer to supplement your EI payment and yes most employers require you to return to work after receiving it. In my case I received top up for the entire 50 week period of receiving EI, plus I was paid 93% of my pay for the two week waiting period for EI - so I received funds from my employer for a total of 52 weeks. I had to return to work for the same amount of time, 52 weeks, or I would have owed back the money paid for any weeks not worked - ie if I went back to work for only 26 weeks I would have had to return 26 weeks' worth of top up payments.

As for the when on claiming EI - the rule is that you can start claiming EI 8 weeks before your due date but you can also take 2 earlier weeks for the waiting period - so the earliest you can start your mat leave is 10 weeks before your due date. The first 15 weeks of leave is maternity leave and only you "the mother" may take that leave as it really relates to the physical aspect of recovery/childbirth/etc. The remaining 35 weeks are parental leave and only you or your spouse can take it, or you can share the 35 weeks, but you do not each qualify. The parental leave starts right after maternity leave.

Hope that helps!
 

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I wanted to reiterate that Mom can take the entire maternity and paternity leave, if that's what is desired by her and her partner. Also, gay partners qualify for parental leave as well as heterosexual partners.

I also got topped up by my organization, up to nearly 100% of my salary for the first 4 months and about 90% of it for the remainder of the year. That included my extended health benefits also. I was also able to take an additional 6 months unpaid leave for "extended childcare leave", which is allowable through my union agreement (that part didn't include any health coverage). However, like the previous poster, if I had not returned to my employer for the equivalent amount of time as my topped up leave, I would have had to pay back A LOT of top up and health benefits. I was totally unaware of how much my health benefits were worth until I called to figure out how much I'd have to repay if I didn't return. Needless to say, I went back to work!
 

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I second (or third) the suggestion to check with your employer about return to work requirements of the top-up. I moved during my parental leave and did not return to the same job, but was not required to pay back any money for either the top-up or the health benefits that I received during my leave
 

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It's especially helpfull if you can get the company to top up the first 2 weeks when you are getting nothing. That's what mine did.

g.
 

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OT - my husband's employer would only top up women.
: And DH took about 2.5 mos of the parental leave. I figured he could have fought it as a human rights code violation based on family status, but he's not a fighter like that, and doesn't like to rock the boat.
 
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