One of our accomplishments this year was to rewrite our Pregnancy, Family and Community Support Leave Policy – which we shortcut to calling our “Care Policy”.
This policy builds on programs that employees are regularly entitled to like parental leave, or short term disability. The policy has a more full understanding of the care needs and care responsibilities our team has in their lives, rooted in feminist, queer, and anti-racist approaches. The objective of our care policy is to cultivate an atmosphere where employees can thrive professionally without sacrificing essential individual, community, and family needs or obligations.
We wanted to share it with you in case it can be helpful to your nonprofit organization!
Nonprofits Outside of Quebec
One thing to remember is that if your nonprofit is located outside of Quebec, and especially if you are outside of Canada, a lot of the information here won’t apply. We hope it can be a source of inspiration, but a lot of what we are able to do builds on what already exists in our province.
What our Care Policy Covers
The policy has two main sections.
Pregnancy, Adoption and Fostering
This section includes:
- Parental leave for the birthing and non birthing parent
- Medical examinations related to pregnancy
- Miscarriages, stillbirths and pregnancy terminations
- Adoption and fostering
Family and Community Support
This includes paid and unpaid leave policies related to the care, health, or education of an employee’s children or their spouse’s children, or due to the state of health of a relative or a person for whom they act as a natural caregiver.
It also includes accommodations for significant crisis situations, including
- domestic or sexual violence
- issues relating to immigration status (deportation, etc.);
- police-related violence;
- an environmental disaster (flooding, fires, earthquake, etc.); or
- mental health crisis.
Our Values in a Care Policy
It was important to us that our policy was inclusive of a variety of kinds of families and different kinds of care. For example, we were thinking about the different kinds of caregiving, and the different kinds of family, that are true for COCo’s team (present and future!).
- Single parents
- Caregivers for their own parents or elders
- Caregivers for people who are not “blood family”
- “Non-primary” caregivers
The definition in the policy is that “‘family & community’ are people related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”. For example:
- close parental figures
- a close friend; or
- parents or children of an employee’s partner
We tried to reflect our feminist, queer, and anti-racist approaches in more symbolic ways as well, for example, by using parental leave instead of maternity leave in our language.
‘Pregnancy Leave’ refers to an entitlement of pregnant employees, including birth mothers, trans fathers, and genderqueer/gender-nonconforming parents when they carry and birth a child. This leave is referred to as ‘Maternity Leave’ in Quebec Law.
There are a few key “top ups” that we included in this policy that go above what is offered by the provincial and federal governments. They were:
- Increased parental leave for the non-birthing parent (4 paid weeks)
- Leave in the case of miscarriage, stillbirth, or pregnancy termination
- Continuing to pay COCo’s contribution as well as the employee’s contribution to their normal benefit package during a paid leave period
- Up to two weeks a year of paid leave for “community and family care” obligations
Making our Policy Easy to Use and Understand
It’s hard to write a policy that is easy to read and use!
One thing we did is, rather than referring to “the law”, we recreated sections of the current legal standard in Quebec, so employees can understand in a single document what they would be entitled to in general, and what COCo is doing in addition. The legal framework around parental leaves and related issues are hard to understand, so we tried to use this policy as a place to explain it more clearly to our staff.
Of course, this means that if the law changes, we will need to amend our policy! But as this would probably be the case anyways, we were comfortable with that choice.
Another example is that while in Quebec, employees would already get paid time off for a necessary major surgery, and that would include gender affirming surgeries, we included it explicitly in the text. We did something similar when defining “significant crisis”, by listing a few examples that might normally be stigmatized in a workplace, with the hopes that this would encourage employees to use their benefits in those situations.
The Policy Itself
We have included the policy here if you want to take a look! We’d love to hear what you think or how your organization manages these questions.