Pettigrew, R.N. Canadian Employers’ Reaction and Policy Adaptation to the Extended, 61-Week Parental Leave. Can. Stud. Popul. 47, 97–109 (2020).

The Canadian parental leave policy has evolved over the last 50 years to provide more flexibility and meet the changing needs of families. In December of 2017, the federal government announced an extension of parental leave from a maximum length of 35 to 61 weeks. However, the Employment Insurance (EI) total payment will remain the same, just spread over 61 weeks. Structured interviews with 46 Canadian employers were conducted to understand their perception of the parental leave extension, its impact on their employees and their organization, and to clarify how they have adapted their internal policies to the new legislation. Employers reported low employee uptake of the 61-week parental leave option, citing the affordability of lower EI payments over the longer leave. Employers expressed concerns related to backfilling, employees reintegrating after long absences, and the potential extra costs associated with top-ups and benefit-cost sharing. Only a few employers recognized the strategic importance of offering supplemental programs for recruitment, retention, and satisfaction of employees.