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EI Ruling May Lead to Increase in Employees Taking Parental Leave

An Employment Insurance Board of Referees has decided that both parents of newborn twins qualified separately for 35 weeks of employment insurance parental benefits.

Christian Martin’s wife gave birth twin girls who were premature, underweight and required constant care and attention. The Board heard evidence that the parents were overwhelmed and exhausted caring for the babies and as a result of complications during the pregnancy. The added complications required Mr. Martin to assist with the ongoing care, and would keep him out of work for approximately 35 weeks.

The parents each applied for 35 weeks of parental benefits. The mother received the full benefits for one infant, while Mr. Martin was denied benefits for the other. Mr. Martin appealed the decision. The Board focussed on the fact that Mr. Martin had to take time off work to care for the twins and allowed his appeal.

While this decision has no precedential value, Boards of Referees tend to be relatively deferential to one another. As such, it is likely that this decision will impact and increase future claims for parental benefits in the case of multiple births.

The EI Commission has 60 days to appeal the decision to the Federal Court. In the event that the decision stands, employers should be prepared for an increase in parental leave requests where an employee’s wife gives birth to multiple babies.

A copy of the decision can be found at

Ryan Conacher – [email protected]