Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Coping with a pregnancy loss—including miscarriage, stillbirth, and medically necessary termination—can be extremely difficult. It is important for it to be dealt with compassionately, fairly, and sensitively in the workplace.
Your union has contacted the Deputy Minister, Treasury Board Secretariat, about the importance of fostering an inclusive and supportive environment in all workplaces across the Ontario Public Service (OPS) with regards to both pregnancy loss and fertility challenges.
See AMAPCEO’s letter to the Deputy Minister here »
See the Deputy Minister’s response here »
AMAPCEO also wants our members in the OPS to be aware of the important leave provisions and support services they have access to through their Collective Agreement, their workplace benefits coverage, their Health Care Spending Account (HCSA), and the Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP), which can help them during this difficult time.
The type of leave you have access to depends on when you experience your pregnancy loss.
17 weeks before your expected due date or later
If you experience a pregnancy loss 17 weeks before your expected due date or later, you are entitled to pregnancy leave under the Employment Standards Act.
You are entitled to this leave whether:
- you were already on pregnancy leave at the time of the pregnancy loss; or
- you start a pregnancy leave on the date of the pregnancy loss.
To access this leave, you must begin the leave on or before the date of your pregnancy loss. Your pregnancy leave will end either 17 weeks after it began, or 12 weeks after the pregnancy loss, whichever is later.
Within two weeks of your last workday, you will need to provide your Employer with written notice of the date your leave began. Your Employer may request a medical certificate issued by a medical doctor, midwife, or nurse practitioner confirming your expected due date and the date of the pregnancy loss; if they do request a certificate, you are required to provide it. Though understandably upsetting, members should prepare themselves for this possibility.
20 weeks before your expected due date or later
If your pregnancy ends in week 20 or later, you may be entitled to receive maternity benefits through federal Employment Insurance (EI). You can contact Service Canada with any questions you may have about EI eligibility.
If you do qualify for EI maternity benefits and provide proof of receipt of these benefits, you are entitled to the OPS supplementary benefit (i.e., ‘EI top-up’). You can refer to Article 24.12 of your Collective Agreement for more information.
More than 20 weeks before your expected due date
If you experience pregnancy loss more than 20 weeks before your due date, you do not have access to leave under the Employment Standards Act or EI, but there are a number of additional leave provisions outlined in your Collective Agreement that you can use to help you manage this difficult time.
These types of leave include:
- Special or compassionate leave: You are entitled to request paid leave for personal circumstances related to special or compassionate reasons, such as pregnancy loss.
- Sick leave: If you are unable to work due to sickness or injury, you are entitled to paid sick days under the Short-Term Sickness Plan (STSP) or to use attendance credits.
- Unpaid leave: You can request an unpaid leave of absence from your manager at any time.
Your workplace benefits provide coverage for psychological services (including psychotherapy, psychology, and social work services), which you may wish to access when dealing with pregnancy loss. Coverage for psychological services is $80 per half hour with annual coverage of $1,600 per calendar year.
AMAPCEO members in the OPS also have access to coverage for treatments through their Health Care Spending Accounts (HCSAs). HCSAs can be used for eligible medical expenses as defined in the Income Tax Act, but they can also be used to top-up out-of-pocket expenses covered under members’ insured plans, including the mental health support mentioned above. More information on the HCSA can be found on the AMAPCEO website.
Finally, members have access to free and confidential counselling services through the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP), an employer-funded program offered through a third-party provider. EFAP can also refer you to additional services not covered by EFAP if needed.
If you need assistance
If you have any questions about leave, or if you experience any issues accessing the supports available to you, please contact an AMAPCEO Workplace Representative. Workplace Representatives are trained union members who have volunteered to confidentially assist members like you in the workplace.
If you would like to connect with others in the OPS also dealing with pregnancy loss, you can contact the OPS Fertility and Pregnancy Loss Group.
This informal, employee-run group for all OPS workers who are seeking support for themselves or would like to join as allies. The group’s aim is to be a safe place for support, to consider potential improvements to OPS policies, and to promote understanding and provide education in the OPS.
The group co-chairs are, Dione Thomas and Melissa Cesarini.