Most Ontario real estate agents work solely on a commissions basis. These agents are generally on an independent contractor status making them self employed. The “employed” rules and regulations in the province of Ontario will for the most part, not apply to self employed real estate sales people who decide on taking a maternity leave.
When a real estate agent, Realtor, sales representative, or Broker, considers her maternity leave situation, she will be thinking about her loss of income, existing and continuing monthly expenses, and possibly the option of not returning to realty sales for a longer period of time.
Here is a typical scenario for an Ontario Realtor who is on maternity leave:
Most likely she was a registered real estate agent in Ontario with a franchise Brokerage. That Brokerage is a member of the Toronto real estate board or depending on their location in Ontario, their own local board. As a board member the Brokerage pays its dues including associations like O.R.E.A and C.R.E.A.. Therefore, all agents in that Brokerage will also be responsible for those dues whether active in sales or not. The agent on Maternity leave, then, will also be paying these dues so long as she remains registered with this Brokerage.
Not all franchise Brokerages are equal, but most of them will have certain common expenses or fees that their registered sales agents must pay as part of their agreement. These fees could be desk fees, advertising fees, franchise and transaction fees, fixed monthly office fees or administration costs etc., etc. Although the real estate boards fee and dues are mandatory whether you are on maternity leave or just not active in sales, some Brokerages may allow non payment or waive some of the listed expenses while the agent is on maternity leave.
An agent on maternity leave may have some legitimate concerns about having to pay for the same expenses she did while in the sales field. Another concern may be the loss of income due to her leave. Still another thought may be the eventual feeling, while taking care of her baby and family, that returning to real estate sales will not be something she wants to do sooner but rather, much later on.
There is a lot of flexibility in Ontario with real estate agents ready to take maternity leave. If expenses are going to be a problem, the licensed agent can opt to resign from her current Brokerage and register with a non board member realty Brokerage. She can park her license with a Brokerage that will not have any of the above mentioned fees and dues applicable. This alone will save the agent a lot of money especially if her maternity leave is extended for an uncertain period of time.
Income while on maternity leave is possible whether the realty agent remains registered with a board member Brokerage or non member Brokerage. She can refer business to a fellow real estate agent or Brokerage and agree to accept a referral fee. As long as her real estate license is registered with a Brokerage in good standing with R.E.C.O., she can continue to earn referral commissions paid to her through her Brokerage.
Although maternity leave is not an option for many agents, it’s good to know that in Ontario, real estate agents who elect to take maternity leave can do so with a little piece of mind. The reassurance that these agents can substantially reduce their expenses and still earn an income by referring sales to other licensed agents, surely becomes important considerations as they decide to become stay at home parents.