Bill 51 : An Act mainly to improve the flexibility of the parental insurance plan in order to promote family-work balance

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On November 28, 2019, Bill 51: An Act mainly to improve the flexibility of the parental insurance plan in order to promote family-work balance was introduced in the National Assembly of Quebec. Nearly a year later, on October 29, 2020, an Act mainly to improve the flexibility of the parental insurance plan in order to promote family-work balance (the “Act”) was assented.

The Act, which came into force on October 29, 2020, was introduced to improve the current Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (“QPIP”) to make it more responsive to the contemporary realities of families, the labour market and employers. The main purpose of the Act is to provide more flexibility in the use of QPIP benefits and to facilitate the family-work balance by promoting a better sharing of family responsibilities between parents. To this end, the Act extends the period within which maternity, paternity, parental or adoption benefits can be paid, among other things.

In addition to the changes made to the QPIP regime, the Act also makes several modifications to the parental leaves provided for in the Quebec Act respecting Labour Standards (“ALS”). Here is a brief summary of the main legislative changes in this regard:

ALS section

Leave description before the Act

Leave description since the adoption of the Act

81.2

Paternity leave

The paternity leave had to begin before the week of the birth and end no later than 52 weeks after the week of the birth.

The paternity leave can now end up to 78 weeks after the week of the birth.

81.5

Maternity leave

The maternity leave had to begin before the 16th week preceding the expected date of delivery and end no later than 18 weeks after the week of delivery.

The maternity leave can now end up to 20 weeks after the week of delivery.

81.5.2

Special maternity leave

The special maternity leave of 18 consecutive weeks, if the termination of pregnancy occurred in or after the 20th week of pregnancy, could only last up to 18 consecutive weeks starting from the week of termination of pregnancy.

The special maternity leave of 18 consecutive weeks, if the termination of pregnancy occurs in or after the 20th week of pregnancy, can now end up to 20 weeks after the week of termination of pregnancy.

81.10

Parental leave

The parents of a newborn child and a person who adopts a child were entitled to parental leave without pay of a maximum of 52 consecutive weeks.

The parents of a newborn child and a person who adopts a child are now entitled to parental leave without pay of a maximum of 65 consecutive weeks.

81.11

Parental leave

The parental leave had to end no later than 70 weeks after the birth or, in the case of adoption, 70 weeks after the child was entrusted to the employee.

The parental leave can now end up to 78 weeks after the birth or, in the case of adoption, 78 weeks after the child was entrusted to the employee.

81.14.1

Leave division

The maternity, paternity or parental leaves could, at the request of the employee, be divided into weeks if the child was hospitalized or if the employee could be absent in the specific situations provided for in this section.

The maternity, paternity or parental leaves now have to be divided into weeks, at the request of the employee, if the child is hospitalized or if the employee may be absent in the specific situations provided for in this section.

81.14.1

Leave division

Except under the specific circumstances provided for in section 81.14.1, the ALS did not provide for the possibility of dividing paternity or parental leaves into weeks.

An addition has been made to this section to allow paternity or parental leaves to be divided upon request by the employee and when the employer consents to it.

In light of these legislative changes, provincially regulated employers should review their parental leaves policies in order to ensure their compliance with the amended ALS provisions.

Do not hesitate to contact one of the members of our labour and employment law national team should you have any questions or require our assistance.

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