When I think of being a working mom and maternity leave I obviously think about my son. He was a “surprise” and so there wasn’t any planning, it was fly by the seat of our pants when it came to”what will we do in 9 months when he shows up.” Fast forward 4 years and we have started the talks about numero dos. I think in a lot of ways having it thrown in your lap so to speak is easier. You just do it, because you have to. One of the major items on our list of things to think about is maternity leave. FMLA covered leave specifically. I qualify if I were to stay at my job, but if I was to get a new one our plans would be delayed by a year, because that’s when I would qualify again for protected leave. I figured as an HR professional I would take this opportunity to go over a few FAQ’s in regards to protected maternity leave. It’s a question I saw all the time when I frequented maternity and baby forums.
This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list of questions and answers. Be sure to check out the FMLA site online or talk to your HR professional.
1. Is FMLA leave paid?
Um no. The US is WAY behind just about every other major world player (and even 2nd and 3rd tier economic nations) in paid leave. What FLMA does is protect your job while you are out. You are entitled to your exact position or a comparable one when you return. It also requires that group health benefits continue during the leave, although you would still be responsible for paying your portion of the premiums. You can also use any PTO during that time and also would most likely qualify for short term disability pay if you have that coverage as well.
2. I heard I don’t qualify since I work for a small business.
If your company has 50 or more employees then you would be entitled to protected leave coverage under FMLA. Some states offer coverage for employers with less than 50. For example Oregon Family Leave Act allows coverage for companies with 25 or more employees. So be sure to check into your state’s family leave policies.
3. I work part time and/or just started with my company, am I eligible?
You must have worked 1250 hours in the year preceding the leave to qualify.
4. How long can I be gone?
FMLA protected leave to care for a newborn includes up to 12 week sof protected leave. There is additional leave available if your son/daughter were to have a serious medical condition after birth or issues with pregnancy as well.
5. Do I have to take it all at once?
Nope. With your employer’s approval you may take intermittent leave in blocks, or work a reduced schedule in the 12 months following the qualifying event. This is not guaranteed to be accepted, and unless you have a medical need to break it up your employer can deny the request.
6. Can I be fired during my leave?
Well you can always be fired. That doesn’t make it legal. A layoff during a protected leave would unfortunately be legal in some circumstances and I watched a friend go through it. Specifically if it included more than just yourself. Contact a legal professional if you were terminated during a protected leave and you feel it’s not legal.
7. Can my husband take FMLA too?
Yes! The 12 weeks leave to care for the birth of a child or to bond with the child extends to fathers as well. In fact you can have him home with you at the same time, or he can take it after yours. The leave is good for 12 months from the qualifying date (birth). This all depends on whether you can financially afford it of course… remember it’s not paid.
I could go on for days but those are the most frequently asked questions I get. I am more than happy to answer any questions you have in the comments section of this post!
For more info check out the links below: