Maternity Leave: Your Rights and Benefits

In This Article:

Returning to work, breastfeeding rights, and child care

Going back to work

Before returning to work, consider the following:

  • Will life as a working mom be easier if you switch to a flexible working arrangement, such as a job share or part-time work? Give your employer ample time to consider any request.
  • If you're breast-feeding, will your employer provide a private, clean, and safe room for you to express milk? If not, would it be possible for you to pump inside a bathroom stall?
  • You're entitled to time off (which may be unpaid) for family emergencies.
  • You may be eligible for working and child tax credits, which can help with child-care costs.


Most states (47 of them) have laws that protect a mother's basic right to breastfeed her child. But women still experience negative reactions when they nurse in public. Nearly half of the states (21 of them) have laws that protect women's rights related to lactation and employment. Being able to pump at work prolongs the amount of time that you can breastfeed your baby, so these protections are important to breastfeeding moms. According to La Leche league, during an 8-hour workday, many moms find time to pump three times a day: during morning, lunch, and afternoon breaks. Since time is a premium at work, many moms get by double-pumping with electric pumps, which should supply enough milk for the following day. La Leche League recommends that working moms should breastfeed their babies when they are at home mornings, evenings, and weekends.

Child care

If you will be returning to work, you will likely need child care for your baby. It is wise to look into your child care options while you are still pregnant, because it may take time to make a decision and some programs may have long waiting lists. Contact a local child-care resource and referral center for recommendations.

Some employers offer flexible spending accounts to employees that reduce salary by a set amount to pay for tax-preferred expenditures like day care. You won't pay taxes on the set-aside funds. Check with your human resources department to see if a flexible spending account is available to you.

Questions And Answers

Work absences

If I have to take a pregnancy-related absence, will my employer hold my job for me or will I be left without my job when I'm ready to return to work?

According to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, employers must hold open a job for a pregnancy-related absence for the same length of time that jobs are held open for employees on sick leave or on disability leave.

What happens to my eligibility for a bonus if I go on FMLA leave?

You'll still be eligible. The Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employee to be given her same, or an equivalent, position, and that would include eligibility for bonuses, including perfect attendance bonuses. If you don't miss days before or after your FMLA leave, you will still be eligible for that bonus.

I've just been offered my dream job, but I'm eight weeks' pregnant. Should I keep mum or should I say something to my new employer?

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that employers cannot refuse to hire a woman because of her pregnancy or a because of a pregnancy-related condition.

What you're entitled to

Baby and child benefits

Your baby will need health insurance coverage just like you do. When your baby is born, you'll need to add him to your health insurance plan so he can get the coverage he will need. Most health insurance companies make the process easy. Typically you'll just need to call your health plan and tell them your baby's name and the date of your baby's birth, and your baby be automatically added to your plan. For most insurance plans, you will have 30 days to give notice of the birth. From then on, your baby will be covered for doctor appointments in the same way that you are.

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excerpted from:

Excerpted from Pregnancy Day by Day.
Copyright © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited.
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