New EI parental sharing benefit

In March, the federal government rolled out a new parental sharing benefit.* The benefit offers parents an additional five to eight weeks of leave, depending on the type of leave selected. To be eligible, parents must share their parental leave benefits. The benefit is available to parents with children born or adopted on or after March 17, 2019.

How it impacts benefit plans

Each province, as well as the federal government, has their own labour standards governing the continuation of coverage during parental leave.

Coverage can be continued as long as The Co-operators continues to receive premium payments for the plan member. Premiums must continue for either all coverage or for no coverage during the leave. The all or no requirement helps to reduce anti-selection under the plan and helps to control rates for plan sponsors.

An exception to this rule occurs when a plan member pays 100% of the disability premiums. In these cases, we allow the plan member to opt out of their disability coverage for the duration of their leave. This is not recommended, as STD and LTD coverage are important to members on leave, just as they are to actively working members.

  • If a plan member continues disability coverage and becomes disabled while on maternity leave, benefits start on their scheduled return to work date (or the end of the elimination period, if later). Benefits continue for as long as the employee remains disabled.
  • In this same situation, if premiums are not paid during maternity leave, terminating coverage, the employee won’t receive disability benefits under the policy, even if they are not able to work again.

Plan sponsors are not required to notify us if coverage is continuing. If coverage is discontinued, plan sponsors should indicate the termination of coverage on the Group Enrollment or Change form (GL122).

No changes are required to a policy to accommodate the new shared parental benefit as all our policies are written to include coverage during any leave mandated by legislation.

For more information, contact your Co-operators Group Benefits Representative.

* The province of Quebec provides parental benefits to residents of Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP).

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