P.E.I. small business group concerned with proposed changes to parental leave

P.E.I. small business group concerned with proposed changes to parental leave

The group that represents small businesses on P.E.I. is concerned with the federal government's plan to extend parental leave. 

Prime Minister Trudeau wants to increase time a parent can take off of work from 12 to 18 months. 

The change would not increase the amount of money received while away from work, but it could affect businesses having to fill the positions on a temporary basis. 

"It will be a challenge for a lot of small businesses," said Erin McGrath-Gaudet, director for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business on P.E.I.

"How do you replace somebody for 18 months?"

Varied effect

McGrath-Gaudet said that different businesses will deal with any changes that come in ways that fit their workplace. 

"Certainly for some businesses you can just bring on additional staff for that 12 month period and it's not that big of an issue," she said.

"But for others it's hard sometimes to replace a person when they're gone for a 12 month period or an extended period of time. So often then you'll see other employees or the owner themselves, kind of pitching in to try and cover off that person's work."

"It impacts everybody a little bit differently."

12 months 'already a challenge'

The proposed extension would force businesses to fill roles left by parents on leave with temporary positions.

McGrath-Gaudet said that causes problems as many people looking for work want full-time hours and a secure job. 

"Having a 12 month period where someone is absent from work is already a challenge, so we certainly wouldn't recommend making it 18 months."

She also said that businesses in the CFIB know that to attract employees flexibility is key.

"Our members have adapted to the system the way it is, and they're comfortable with the way it is, even if it does create challenges," McGrath-Gaudet said.

"We've certainly come out and said this isn't a move that we want to see government making."

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