Maternity Leave: Your Rights and Benefits

In This Article:

Know your rights, moms and dads

Your rights

When you have a baby, you can take up to 12 weeks off work during a 12-month period and retain your right to return to the same, or an equivalent, position, including equivalent pay and benefits, if you are eligible to be covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Employees eligible for FMLA have worked for their employers for at least 12 months, including at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. Additionally, the employee must work within 75 miles of where 50 or more employees work. FMLA leave is guaranteed unpaid, but employers or employees can opt to use paid vacation or sick time, when this is allowed by an employer. Both men and women are eligible for FMLA leave, which applies to private employees, all state and local government employees, and some federal employees. Your employer is required to continue your health insurance coverage during your FMLA leave. If you've been paying a portion of your health insurance premiums, you'll have to continue doing so during your FMLA leave. If you don't want to take all 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a row, you may be able to break it down into shorter blocks of time, or even a shorter work week or work day. When possible, employees who are planning to use FMLA leave are required to tell their employers 30 days before the leave would begin. But if you have pregnancy complications that require you to stop working before the baby is born, the 12 weeks of FMLA leave would begin then.

Pregnant woman on phone

Finding out about your maternity benefits can give you peace of mind that you will have some security during your maternity leave.

Maternity pay

According to 2008 data from the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, just 9 percent of all workers were eligible for paid family leave. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, which analyzed 2006 rankings for America's 100 most family-friendly employers, 93 percent of those best-ranked companies provide at least one week of paid maternity leave, but 52 percent of the companies pay for six weeks or less. Every company has its own policies for maternity leave. If an employer does provide compensation, the amount you'll receive may depend on what you earn and how long you've been working for the company. The best way to find out what you may be eligible for is to meet with a human resources representative or read the employee handbook. You may be allowed to use paid sick time, vacation days, or the company's short-term disability coverage, in addition to paid leave.

Maternity leave extras

Paid leave: the facts

Some states have passed laws that offer new parents paid maternity leave and, in many cases, paternity leave. California was the first state to pass such legislation. Through its Paid Family Leave Program, employees who participate in the State Disability Insurance Program can receive up to six weeks of partial pay for time off within the first year of their baby's birth. Two other states, Washington and New Jersey, have passed similar legislation, and other states may follow suit. Find out about the laws in your state.

Dads at home

Far fewer employers offer paid paternity leave to new dads than paid maternity leave to new moms. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, only 50 percent of 2006's 100 most family-friendly companies offered paid paternity leave. Of them 35 percent paid for one to two weeks leave, and no companies paid for more than six weeks of paternity leave. Dads who want to be home for a newborn's earliest days may be able to use paid vacation or sick leave, or they can take FMLA leave.

Paid leave: the facts

Better breaks for parents abroad

A recent report from researchers at Harvard University and McGill University found the US lags behind most other countries when it comes to paid maternity and paternity leave. Out of 173 countries studied, 168 offered working women guaranteed paid maternity leave. The US was one of only five countries that did not, along with Lesotho, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland. Sixty-six countries offered men paid paternity leave; the US did not.

 Previous   1   2   Next 

excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
Buy this book now!

Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

Quick Polls

Q: What expense worries you the most?

Diapers and/or formula

Child care or preschool

College down the road

View Results


Create Your Baby Registry with Target
Do you have everything you need to care for your new bundle of joy? Create your Target baby registry today!

6 Tips to Help Your Marriage Survive a New Baby
When the going gets tough, follow these tips to help your marriage during the stressful newborn months.

Where Should Newborns Sleep? Comparing Bassinets, Cradles & More
Where will your bundle of joy sleep when she comes home? Get shopping and safety tips for choosing a bassinet, play yard, or other crib alternative that will fit in your bedroom, per AAP guidelines.

Top 100 Baby Names of 2015
Want to see which baby girl names and boy names are hot in the U.S. right now? Check out these lists from the S.S.A., and click on the names to see their meanings!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

© 2000-2016  Sandbox Networks, Inc. All Rights Reserved.