Does your firm have a policy regarding maternity and/or parental leave? If there is no written policy, check what’s happened in the past when other lawyers have gone on leave. This will inform your negotiations.
Are you the first person at your firm to go on leave? Do some research about how other firms are responding to lawyers going on leave.
Topics for consideration:
- Will your employer “top up” your earnings to pay you the difference between your usual salary and what you will receive on Employment Insurance (EI)?
- Will your employer maintain you on the health plan and/or continue making any annual contributions to RRSPs, pension or other retirement planning vehicles during your absence?
- How will taking leave affect your billable target?
- How will taking leave affect your ability to achieve partnership?
- Under what circumstances will you be required to repay your top-up?
The attached Model Policy was formulated after a thorough review of policies from various jurisdictions within Canada, including other law societies and Bar associations, and existing policies of Nova Scotia law firms, corporations and government agencies. This review disclosed that in some cases firms simply provide unpaid periods of leave, while in other cases firms supplement the paid benefits that are applicable under the appropriate federal legislation. The Gender Equity Committee recognizes it will be up to the individual employer to determine, based on its particular needs and circumstances, the benefits it will extend to its lawyers. The Committee has developed the attached policy with a view to it serving as the recommended model for Nova Scotia law firms and other employers of lawyers in Nova Scotia.
Tips from an NSBS Member:
“If you are getting topped up, make sure they take enough income tax off because you are also receiving EI benefits at the same time. You don’t want to have to pay back a big amount come income tax time if they didn’t take enough.”