Notice to the Profession - Changes to the Parental Leave Assistance Program
On November 22, 2012, Convocation approved an extension of the Parental Leave Assistance Program (PLAP). It also approved the adoption of a means test by which an applicant must have a net annual practice income of less than $50,000 to be eligible for the PLAP. The new means test will be effective as of January 1, 2014, subject to confirmation of any tax implications of the new model.
During the extension of the pilot project, the Equity Committee will continue to explore options to meet the objectives of PLAP in keeping women in practice by reducing the financial hardship faced by lawyers in sole and small firms during parental leaves.
September, 2010 - The federal Employment Insurance Act has been amended to provide self-employed persons special benefits (EI Special Benefits) including maternity, parental, adoption, sickness, and compassionate care benefits. These benefits were previously available only to wage-earners and salaried workers.
The new legislation came into effect on January 1, 2010 and the new benefits will be payable beginning in January 2011. Self-employed persons who wish to receive EI Special Benefits will have to opt into the Employment Insurance plan and pay premiums for at least one year before they can claim benefits.
A description of the benefits available under the new EI plan can be found on the Human Resources and Skills Development Canada website.
The details of how to apply for benefits under the new EI plan are available on the Services Canada website.
The Law Society's three-year pilot "Parental Leave Assistance Program" (PLAP) is in place to make it possible for more lawyers to maintain their practice after the birth or adoption of a child.
The goal is to reduce the hardship that arises when a practising lawyer who is a partner in a small firm or a sole practitioner takes parental leave..
The program provides financial benefits to practising lawyers in firms of five lawyers or fewer who do not have access to other maternity, parental, or adoption financial benefits under public or private plans and who meet the eligibility criteria.
The Parental Leave Assistance Program was one of the nine recommendations developed by the Law Society's Retention of Women Working Group and is designed to empower women to take charge of their careers and assist in maintaining the viability of small firms and sole practices. The Law Society approved the Parental Leave Assistance Program as a three-year pilot program in May 2008, for implementation in 2009.
The Program is effective as of March 12, 2009. The benefits received under the Parental Leave Assistance Program are intended to be business income replacement and are taxable as such. Applications for benefits will only be considered for births and other eligible circumstances occurring on or after March 12th, 2009.
Under the Program, the Law Society provides a fixed sum of $750 a week to eligible applicants for up to twelve weeks (maximum $9,000 per leave, per family unit) to cover, among other things, expenses associated with maintaining their practice during a maternity, parental or adoption leave.
To be eligible for benefits under the Parental Leave Assistance Program, the applicant must satisfy at least all of the following requirements (please consult the Guidelines and Criteria for Applying for full requirements):
a. be a parent (mother or father) - Note: For the purpose of this subparagraph, a "parent" is an individual who, under the laws of Ontario, has rights and responsibilities with respect to the custody, care and control of the child;
b. be a member in good standing who provides legal advice, opinions or services with respect to the laws of Ontario;
c. be a sole practitioner or a partner in a firm of five lawyers or less;
d. have no access to any other maternity, parental, or adoption financial benefits under public or private plans;
The term "access to any other public or private plans" includes lawyers who have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission and are eligible to receive Employment Insurance Special Benefits. Those lawyers are not eligible for PLAP.
Lawyers who have not opted to receive EI Special Benefits or who have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission but are in the one-year waiting period to be eligible for EI Special Benefits, are eligible for PLAP.
Lawyers who have opted to receive EI Special Benefits but have terminated their agreement and, if still eligible to claim EI Special Benefits, have signed an affidavit indicating that they forego any EI Special Benefits, are eligible for PLAP
e. cease to engage in remunerative work or to practise law during the leave for which he or she is receiving payments under PLAP.
Applicants are encouraged to review the Guidelines and Criteria for Applying (PDF) for further requirements and information on how to apply for the PLAP before completing the Application Form (PDF). These documents, as well as Frequently Asked Questions, are available on our website. Please note that if you are a woman lawyer who is eligible for the Parental Leave Assistance Program, you may also be eligible under the Law Society's Career Coaching Program. The Career Coaching Program is offered free of charge. Please consult the following webpage to find out more: http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=2147487022
For general inquiries, please contact the Resource Centre toll free 1 800-668-7380 ext. 3315, or 416 947-3315, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Law Society will continue to offer its Parental Leave Assistance Program. Please consult the Guidelines and Criteria for information about eligibility to the Parental Leave Assistance Program.