Pregnancy/Maternity

The rights of a pregnant woman

You’re pregnant and wondering if you have rights during your pregnancy? Here is everything you need to know about the laws that exist for pregnant women.

Prenatal care

The first right of a pregnant woman is the choice of prenatal care she wishes to receive during pregnancy according to her values and needs, whether it be with a medical doctor or with a midwife. When you’ve made your choice, that professional has a duty to properly inform you on the progress of your pregnancy, labor and delivery in the different places when you can choose to give birth as well as all the treatments and drugs offered, their effects and limitations and what their alternatives are so you can make an informed decision.

If you feel that the professional of your choice does not meet your needs or expectations, you have a right to seek a second opinion or even to change caregivers at any time during your pregnancy.

IMPORTANT: Throughout your pregnancy, you have a right to see all the information that is written in your file and to get clear and complete answers to your questions.

The rights of a pregnant woman at work

The Canadian Human Rights Act protects pregnant women against all forms of discrimination arising from the pregnancy including:

  • A negative treatment by your employer;
  • The refusal to hire or offer a promotion;
  • Harassment;
  • Termination of employment.

In case your duties and the rules of your workplace don’t meet your needs, or that the work you do can be dangerous for you or your baby, the law says that your employer must adjust your working conditions to reduce or eliminate those discriminatory effects. To make this request, you must obtain a certificate from a qualified physician that states the duration of the potential risk and the activities you have to avoid.

Days off provided by law for pregnant women

  • Preventive withdrawal and reassignment: When your employer can’t adjust your working conditions to reduce potential risks for you or your baby, you may be entitled to receive a Preventive withdrawal and reassignment certificate that allows you time off from work (CSST in Quebec).
  • Special maternity leave: If you or your child’s health is at risk, you are entitled to special maternity leave which allows you to take an unpaid leave of 3 weeks. This period may be extended with proof from a qualified physician.
  • Maternity leave: Maternity leave gives you 18 weeks off without pay and you may start those 16 weeks before the expected date of childbirth.
  • Parental leave: The law provides you with parental leave which gives you access to 52 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of your baby.
  • Attention! Some workers are not covered by the act respecting labour standards.

Obviously, you can take time off work without pay as often as necessary for your prenatal care appointments. You simply have to notify your employer as soon as you know the date of your next appointment.


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