FMLA Maternity leave FAQ’s

fmla questions

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:

Wage and Hour Division

Individual State Family Leave Laws





  • Beth says:

    I think it’s awesome men can take leave too. Although one downside, if you work for the same company you have to share your 12 weeks, so my husband couldn’t take it. I’m not sure I could have talked him into it anyway, but still would have been a nice opportunity.
    Beth recently posted..Where Caden SleepsMy Profile

    • I am in the same boat as you Beth. My husband and I work for the same company so he could not take 12 additional weeks either. It is a shame they put that in place, especially for a company like mine that employs over 20,000 people worldwide!!
      Monica Froese recently posted..working all day and nightMy Profile

  • There is a little know interaction between the FMLA and the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). Under ARRA the states were provided incentives to modernize unemployment insurance to include compelling family reasons.

    Twenty two states took advantage of the incentives to expand ways workers could tap into benefits when leaving work for family reasons. Those who lose their job when FMLA either does not apply or when the length of leave is too long may qualify if they work in one of these states.
    Kevin @ Growing Family Benefits recently posted..Short Term Disability vs Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)My Profile

  • Hannah M says:

    I am curious about insurance and FMLA leave. If I had single coverage before going on FMLA, and then moved to family coverage afterwards because of birth, would I be eligible to switch deductible or can I only move to family coverage?

    • Jenn says:

      Each plan is set up individually, but I can safely say that MOST plans will allow you to add a dependent after birth/adoption but not change plans or add any additional family members that were not affected by the “life event”. Now if a spouse or dependent lost coverage they would qualify for a separate event. If you inly have 2 options (employee only or family) then you would be allowed to add additional family at that time.

      Hope that helped!!

      – Jenn

    • Tracy says:

      I am only able to change my plan during open enrollment time, which is once a year. Not sure if this is the same for everyone, but as a teacher this is how it works. I can add a child anytime, though.
      Twitter: wa_tracy

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