What are my rights to time off and pay after a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss?

A loss, even in the early weeks of pregnancy, can be medically challenging. You may need to take time off work and want to know your options during this difficult time.

Along with grieving and physical healing, your grief and recovery may include time off work to connect with mental health supports. It is a good idea to discuss taking time off work with your healthcare provider; they will likely need to write a letter or fill out forms to support an extended time away from work.

Employer Benefits

Your employer may offer some paid sick leave (called sick days) or a short-term disability plan through your employee benefits package. Before applying for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, check with your employer to find out if they have a plan and the eligibility criteria.

Income Benefits through Employment Insurance (EI)

According to Service Canada, you may be eligible for the following benefits if you or your family has experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss.

You may be eligible for these benefits if you experience:

  • Health complications during pregnancy
  • Health complications for your child
  • Miscarriage, termination or stillbirth
  • Death of a child
  • Maternity Benefits are only available to those away from work because they're pregnant or have recently given birth. Parental benefits are available to the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child.
Sickness Benefits
  • Are available if you get sick or require bed rest during pregnancy.
Caregiving Benefits
  • If you provide care or support to a critically ill or injured person or someone needing end-of-life care.

How can I Apply for EI benefits?

It is a good idea to apply as soon as you stop working. Apply within four weeks of your final day at work, or you might not be eligible if you wait longer. You will need your Social Insurance Number and other documents to start your application. You can read more about how to apply for EI benefits in our article on Settlement.Org.

Many settlement agencies can help you with your EI application. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me and search for "Settlement Services" in your area.

Will I lose my job if I take time off?

Ontario has different types of Job Protected Leaves that you may be eligible for depending on your circumstances. They may also qualify for EI benefits or simply be job-protected time off work for you during this difficult time.

  • Child death leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave of absence. It provides up to 104 weeks for the death of a child.
  • Critical illness leave is an unpaid job-protected leave of absence of up to 37 weeks in relation to a critically ill minor child.
  • Family caregiver leave is an unpaid, job-protected leave of up to eight weeks per calendar year per specified family member.
  • Pregnancy Leave - pregnant employees have the right to take pregnancy leave of up to 17 weeks of unpaid time off work. In some cases, the leave may be longer. Employers do not have to pay wages to someone on pregnancy leave.

For More Information

  • Employment Insurance (EI) - Official information about EI. From Service Canada.
  • EI Special Benefits - Describes maternity and parental benefits, who is eligible and how to apply. From Service Canada.
  • Employment Insurance - This booklet has clear language information about Employment Insurance. From CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario).
Last updated: October 30, 2023 4006589