Accordingly, a mother-to-be or contemplating-to-be should acquaint herself with her company's and government's provisions for maternity leave, including not only pay and duration, but also other benefits, such as assisted home care.
To ensure a smooth transition in the run-up and after the birth of the baby, it is best that the female employee first check with the HR department about the organization's maternal leave policy and the benefits that she is entitled to, so that both parties can work out a mutually-acceptable arrangement.
It is generally understood, if not legally mandated, that employers are prohibited from dismissing an employee who is on maternity leave. Similarly, employees cannot use the maternity benefit period to offset the notice of termination. Once an employee leaves employment, her maternity benefits will cease too. In addition, an employee cannot work for another employer during the period of her maternity leave. If she does so, not only her maternity benefit be forfeited, she may face dismissal too.
Despite existing benefits of maternity leave, there have been calls for improvements and enhancements, e.g., in Canada. Among the changes sought are:
- An increase in the maximum leave salary from the current 55% (capped at $40,000 per year)
- Home assistance and much longer leave (citing the French model)
- Maternity leave for self-employed women
- Pre-birth application for leave (Currently, applications are accepted by Service Canada only after the birth of the child, with resulting delays and post-application period without benefits)
- Reduction in the number of job hours required for maternity leave
- Employer top-ups of government maternity leave benefits
- Longer leave for multiple births, e.g., twins
A question worth exploring is whether, in a given jurisdiction that recognizes and mandates paternity leave, both husband and wife are eligible for leave with benefits (especially if working in the same company).
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