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) and 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 means test is effective as of January 1, 2014.
The Retention of Women Working Group and 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.
The Law Society's 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 PLAP 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 PLAP in May 2008 and launched the program in 2009.
The benefits received under the Parental Leave Assistance Program are intended to defray some of the overhead costs associated with maintaining a practice during a leave. Under PLAP, 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.
Effective January 1, 2014, the Eligibility Criteria are as follows:
To be eligible for benefits under PLAP, the lawyer must satisfy all of the following requirements:
- Be a parent of a child.
- Be a member in good standing.
- Be a sole practitioner or a partner in a firm of five lawyers or less.
- Have had an active law practice and earned income from providing legal services, advice or opinions to clients for a period of at least six months immediately preceding the event.
- Have an active law practice with a business address in Ontario that is not a Post Office (PO) box.
- With respect to the law practice in Ontario, have insurance against professional liability.
- Have no access to any other maternity/parental/adoption financial benefits under public or private plans.
Note: For the purpose of this subparagraph:
Lawyers who have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission and are eligible to receive El Special Benefits are not eligible for PLAP.
Lawyers who have entered into an agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission but are in the one year waiting period to be eligible for El Special Benefits are eligible for PLAP.
Lawyers who have terminated their agreement with the Canada Employment Insurance Commission but remain eligible to claim El Special Benefits are eligible for PLAP if they sign an affidavit stating that they will forego all El Special Benefits.
h. Have a net practice income of less than $50,000 for the period of twelve months immediately preceding the event.
i. Cease to engage in remunerative work and to practise law during the leave for which he or she is receiving payment of benefits 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.
The federal Employment Insurance Act was amended in 2010 to provide self-employed persons special benefits (EI Special Benefits) for maternity, parental, adoption, sickness, compassionate care and parents of critically ill children leaves. These benefits were previously available only to wage-earners and salaried workers. Self-employed persons who wish to receive EI Special Benefits have to opt into the Employment Insurance plan and pay premiums for at least one year before they can claim benefits.
To find out more about the benefits available under the new EI plan and how to apply, please consult the Services Canada website.
Please note that if you are a woman lawyer who is eligible for the PLAP, 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