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Responding to workplace health and safety risks for pregnant workers

over 3 years ago
CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

Please share your views and experiences:

Sometimes, expecting mothers work jobs that pose risks to their health or safety during their pregnancy; and, workplace accommodation (modifications to work conditions or tasks, or job reassignment) is not feasible. As a result, they must temporarily leave work.

In your opinion, should pregnant workers have the option to access EI maternity benefits earlier than currently allowed (i.e. more than two months prior to their expected due date) in these circumstances?

How much earlier do you think EI maternity benefits and leave should be available for pregnant workers, keeping in mind that up to 15 weeks of EI maternity benefits are provided? Please explain.

Young boy in a pre-school environment

Consultation has concluded

  • Mwylie over 3 years ago
    The maternity leave should be protected as time dedicated to the baby once born, therefore there should be a separate allowance for sick leave due to pregnancy if required by a physician. It is unfair to force a mother to choose between working while pregnant or loosing future time with their child.
  • Lorna Turnbull over 3 years ago
    The needs of a pregnant worker must be accommodated, but they should not be accommodated at the expense of the maternity/parental benefits. those benefits serve the best interests of the child and are an equality right of each of the parents (for different reasons). separate benefits provided through a scheme such as the one in Quebec is the only justifiable approach.
  • EP over 3 years ago
    I agree with a lot of the comments below. The way Québec is doing things is the way to go. I have friends who are nurses in Québec, and as soon as they got pregnant they were exempted from doing night shifts, then at a certain amount of weeks had reduced hours and later on were put on preventative leave before the delivery (even though they did not medically require it). I believe their EI mat leave only started on the date of delivery so they got a full year at home with their little one on top of the time they had off before. When I got pregnant, there was absolutely no change to my schedule. I was expected to work nights and all of my regular hours as I had done before up until the day I decided to go on leave. I had to choose a random date that I wanted to work up to so I decided to work up to 2 weeks before my due date. My daughter arrived 2 weeks later so she will be 11 months when I go back to work. Having to work night shifts and being pregnant was not enjoyable in the least (thank God I had amazing co-workers who were willing to trade). And then having to choose a random date to take off when I had no idea when the baby would arrive was not the easiest either. I wanted to work as long as I could to have more time with the baby after the birth but did not want to wait until the last minute and risk overworking myself and causing premature labour or working too long and not having time to rest before babe.
  • Michelle over 3 years ago
    A different option should be offered, unrelated to EI maternity benefits. Perhaps through WCB/long-term disability?
  • Christine over 3 years ago
    On protective reassignment: this should be a WCB issue as in Quebec. Changing the timing of mat leave does not provide additional benefits.
  • Kim over 3 years ago
    The greatest period of risk of toxic exposure causing harm is during early pregnancy. This is often when women feel their worst. I feel that some leave should be allowed during this time if people are medically affected.
  • Debora1 over 3 years ago
    This should be a WCB issue as in Quebec. Changing the timing of maternity leave does not provide additional benefits.
  • lblack-meddings over 3 years ago
    I think they should have access to paid sick leave and improved access to paid maternity benefits that are not clawed back after the baby is born.
  • jennneilson over 3 years ago
    Yes, access to EI maternity benefits should be available to those who are not able to work during pregnancy, even if this is not because they are having health challenges related to the pregnancy. These benefits should be IN ADDITION to the 12 months available after the baby is born.
  • Tkthomas over 3 years ago
    regulation for priivate sector accomdations in these cases should be insured. alternately if this type of regulation is not feasible allowing for blocks of leave should be examined
  • margaret.schwan over 3 years ago
    While I agree that maternity benefits should be available to an expectant mother at any point in her pregnancy, I feel that if medically necessary or hazardous for a woman to stay at her job, there should be another benefit available to get BEFORE delivery. I think it is so important to have a full 12 months leave AFTER the child is born and not have a portion of it used beforehand.
  • tmorin over 3 years ago
    As a parent and someone who works in health and safety, I think there should be an option to adjust the benefits period based on the mother's needs. If you told a mother she can use up some of her 15 weeks before her due date or after her due date, that gives her some flexibility in case her pregnancy is having complications or otherwise her work is unable to accommodate enough (ie, she's on bed rest). However, for most workplaces, they should be accommodating until undue hardship as per human rights law and there should be no excuses for not providing light or sedentary duties. Most businesses do this anyways with WCB claims. If the workplace decides not to accommodate, the pregnant worker should be compensated by the company regardless, just as we see with WCB cases. There should be no burden to the worker to have to adjust their benefits when the company has a legal obligation to accommodate. The company can pay her to sit at home if they don’t have the accommodation.