Maternity Leave for Abortions and Miscarriages


You’re allowed to take maternity leave if you have a miscarriage or abortion. But this type of leave is different from the one you can take when you give birth or adopt a child. This article explains the rules that apply to this type of special maternity leave.  

For Most Employees in Quebec 

Employees covered by a law called the Loi sur les normes du travail (Act respecting labour standards) can get this type of maternity leave, whether they’re full-time or part-time workers. Senior management and construction workers also get this maternity leave, even though the Act doesn’t apply to them.  

Important! The Act respecting labour standards applies to most, but not all, employees in Quebec. To find out whether the Act applies to you, see our article on the subject.  

If you’re an independent self-employed worker, you’re not covered by the rules on maternity leave under the Act respecting labour standards. But some self-employed workers might still be entitled to receive maternity benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). To find out whether you’re entitled to these benefits, visit the website of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, or call the QPIP customer service centre.

Your responsibilities Toward Your Employer    

When you take a special maternity leave for an abortion or a miscarriage, you must advise your employer in writing as soon as possible of the date plan to return to work. You must also provide a medical certificate regarding the miscarriage or abortion.   

The Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité  du travail (CNESST) has sample notices you can use (in French only). If you base your notice on one of these samples, you’ll be respecting the legal requirements.  

The rules on the length of your maternity leave and how much you’ll be paid depend on when the abortion or miscarriage occurred.  

If Your Pregnancy Ends Before Your 20th Week 

Length of Maternity Leave 

If your pregnancy ends before the beginning of your 20th week, you’re allowed to take a three-week special maternity leave. It can’t be longer than this, unless your doctor gives you a medical certificate explaining that you need more time off work.  

Amount Paid 

The law doesn’t require your employer to pay your salary. You’re also not entitled to receive maternity benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). 

Your Spouse or Partner 

The law doesn’t allow any time off for your spouse or partner if your pregnancy ends before the 20th week.  

If Your Pregnancy Ends During Your 20th Week or Later  

Length of Maternity Leave 

If your abortion or miscarriage occurs during your 20th week of pregnancy or later, you’re entitled to a maternity leave of 18 weeks, just as you would be had you given birth to your child.  

Amount Paid 

The law doesn’t require your employer to pay your salary. But if your pregnancy ends during your 20th week or later, you might be entitled to maternity benefits under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP). You must apply for benefits by contacting the customer service centre in writing. You can also apply online through the website of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.  

  • You live in Quebec. 
  • For an employee: Your income is at least 40% less during your leave. 
  • For a self-employed worker covered by the QPIP: The time you dedicate to your business activities is at least 40% less during your leave. 
  • You had at least $2,000 in revenue the last year. 
  • You contributed to the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. 
  • Your pregnancy ended during your 20th week or later. 
  • Your pregnancy ended because
    • you had a miscarriage, 
    • you had an abortion that you asked for or that was necessary for medical reasons, or 
    • the baby was stillborn (that is, born with no sign of life).

Maternity benefits generally begin the week your pregnancy was interrupted or ended. They usually last for a maximum of 20 weeks after the abortion or miscarriage.  

The amount of your benefits and the length of time you receive them depend on the type of plan you choose: the basic plan or the special plan.  

Differences between plans

Length of Benefits 

Amount of Benefits 

Basic Plan 

18 weeks 

70% of gross income 

Special Plan 

15 weeks 

75% of gross income 

Once you’ve chosen the plan you want, you can’t change your mind.   

You can ask for higher benefits if your income is below a certain amount. To learn whether you qualify, visit the website of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.  

Your Spouse or Partner 

If your pregnancy ends during the 20th week or later, your spouse or partner is allowed to take five days off work. However, he or she must be covered under the Act respecting labour standards to get this time off. Your spouse or partner is paid for the first two days.