September 25, 2021

How to Take Maternity Leave From Your Job

For most people, caring for a newborn baby or new child in the family is a full time job and requires taking some time away from your job–maternity leave, or parental leave. Can you afford to do that? Will your employer allow you to be gone from work for days, possibly weeks?

When you need to take planned or unplanned time off from work to care for a child, there are a few benefit options available to you, as an employee:

  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Your state’s FMLA
  • Short-term Disability
  • Employer’s maternity/parental leave policy, vacation, and other paid time off alternatives.

FMLA and Maternity Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides you with the legal right to take unpaid leave from your job for maternity leave. In today’s diverse workplaces, where men may be required to help out at home and spouse/partner arrangements vary, the term “maternity leave” is often partnered with “paternity leave,” or replaced altogether with “parental leave.” These inclusive terms represent a wide range of individuals and circumstances, including:

  • New mothers
  • New fathers
  • Individuals and couples adopting a child
  • Individuals and couples with a new foster child
  • Anyone playing the role of primary caregiver to a child

Under the federal FMLA guidelines, you may take up to 12 weeks of leave over the course of the first year of a newborn’s life or the first year you have an adopted or foster child in your care. You are not required to take this time all at once and may make arrangements with your employer to be gone from work on parental leave at various times throughout the year.

What you need to know about FMLA:

  • If your employer has 50+ employees they are required to provide Family and Medical Leave, including maternity leave.
  • To qualify for FMLA, you must have been working for your employer for at least 12 months, or clocked 1250 hours of time in one year.
  • Maternity leave under FMLA is unpaid time off, but your employer may allow you to use some of your accrued paid time off or have other time off policies in place that permit you to use vacation time.
  • You are expected to give your employer 30 days notice at least if you will be taking maternity leave under the FMLA.

Other than the federal FMLA your state government also enforces separate FMLA benefits, which could be bundled with enhanced maternity and paternity leave options. But your employer may also have a special maternity or parental leave policy in place that’s even better than the federal FMLA.

Getting Paid While You’re on Maternity Leave

In some cases you may be able to use short-term disability to ensure an income while you are on maternity leave. Remember, under the federal FMLA, your employer is not required to pay you for the time you take away from the job. Check with your employer or human resources department for information on all your maternity leave options.

How To Take Maternity Leave From Your Job

Maternity leave is a legal guarantee for all women who are employed in businesses that qualify under the Family and Medical Leave Act 1993, otherwise known as the FMLA. It is important to note that not every company is required to grant time off under this act, it would be useful to familiarize yourself with a deeper understating of the regulations so that you can be certain that you will not suffer any discrimination or loss of secure employment.

Maternity Leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed into law by Congress in the early nineties to ensure that the occupations of new mothers were protected. Also it covers leave for sickness to an individual or a close family member.

It is stated in the FMLA that all employees who fall under the remit of this law are obliged to agree to the granting of twelve weeks unpaid leave during any twelve month period if the applicant is submitting a request due to the “birth and care of a newborn child”. By enacting this law you can have peace of mind that after the allotted time is over you will be able to return to work and take up your previous position and salary.

The FMLA is a federal law so it applies in each of the states though there may also be other maternity leave regulations in place in your location. Make sure you research into the other rules that govern maternity leave in your state so that you can be provided the maximum amount of assistance and benefit.

It is worth noting that not every business in the country is obliged to abide by the guidelines set out in the Family and Medical Leave Act. It is stated in the regulations that only those companies that have more than fifty employees on their books and who have worked a minimum of twenty weeks a year are required to grant leave under the FMLA.

There is a clause for public sector workers whereby there is no minimum or maximum limit on the size of the workforce for the act to come into force. Unfortunately if you work for a small family run business that has less than fifty employees they do not have to grant you FMLA maternity leave.

There is another clause in the act which suggests that if you have not been employed by the employer for the last twelve months you are not eligible for leave under the current rules. Such clauses are there to stop abuse of the system rather than make it difficult for employees.

It must be noted that there is no obligation for the employer to make payments to new mothers during their leave, this would only occur if they have built up paid vacation time that they would like to cash in after the birth of a child. If you require more time than twelve weeks leave this would have to be negotiated with the employer personally as no such obligation is set out under the FMLA.
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