P.E.I. will extend parental-leave job security this fall

P.E.I. will be the last province to do it, but this fall it will amend its Employment Standards Act to protect workers who take more than 12 months of parental leave.

Federal workers, and workers in other provinces, already protected

Society is changing, says Sonny Gallant, and people want to spend more time with their babies. (Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

P.E.I. will be the last province to do it, but this fall it will amend its Employment Standards Act to protect workers who take more than 12 months of parental leave.

Last year the federal government gave new parents the option of taking up to 18 months leave instead of 12.

But while benefits were extended, only federal workers were guaranteed they could return to their jobs if they stayed out more than a year. That's because that protection for most workers is provincially regulated.

Workforce Minister Sonny Gallant said the province has been consulting with employers on the changes, which will guarantee the ability for workers to return to their jobs after up to 18 months of parental leave.

There was never any question that the province would make the change, says Gallant. (CBC )

"This is a good benefit for people to be able to stay home with their kids. It's an important time when you have a newborn, that you're home with them as long as you can," said Gallant.

"Everybody seems to have bought into that and understand the importance of that."

Gallant said there was never any question of the province not bringing in the change.

Other changes will come to the act at the same time, said Gallant. That will include extending compassionate care leave from eight weeks to 26, and reducing the qualifying period for sick leave to three months from six.

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With files from Laura Chapin