What You Need to Know About Your Maternity Leave Rights

Finding out that you’re expecting a child is certainly a joyous occasion. However, as wonderful as it is preparing for your little one to arrive, you still have to go through daily life, which includes going to work until you’re near the end of your pregnancy. Before you go on maternity leave, there are a couple of things you should know first.

You May Be Legally Entitled to Time Off

The time you have off when going on maternity leave actually depends on a few factors—who you work for, if you are eligible, and the law. Employers are mandated by law to give new mothers who are eligible employees a 12-week period to care for and spend time with their babies. However, there are other employers that offer more than 12 weeks along with paid time off. The laws governing maternity leave vary by state, so be sure to read your state’s guidelines to get a better understanding.

Through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you can be eligible for leave based on the following requirements:

  • You work for a covered employer
  • You’ve worked for the employer for at least twelve months (these do not have to be consecutive)
  • You have at least 1,250 hours of service for the employer during the twelve-month period immediately preceding the leave (however, airline employees have special hours of service requirements).
  • You work at a location where your employer has at least fifty employees within seventy-five miles.

Make sure that you do your research and figure out if your employer is a covered employer and if you fit these requirements so you can know what, if anything, you are entitled to when it comes to maternity leave.

You May Not Get Paid

Though getting to spend time with your baby while you’re on maternity leave is great, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to get paid. According to Family Education, the Family and Medical Leave Act can grant eligible employees leave, but does not require it to be paid leave. However, some states have laws that allow you to have disability insurance that you can use to be paid while on your leave. It’s also a good idea to check with your employer to see if your company offers paid maternity leave, because some do. Since it’s not always guaranteed that your time off will be paid, it’s always a good idea to find out the laws and company policies that may apply to you far in advance.

Discrimination is Not Allowed

One of the most important things to keep in mind is discrimination. As silly as it sounds, some women are often discriminated against simply because they’re carrying a baby. However, according to GBW Law, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), you cannot be discriminated against for being pregnant. Your employer cannot refuse you of promotions or benefits or fire you because you’re pregnant. If they do, then you need to enlist the services of an attorney. He or she will help make sure you receive what you are owed.

You’re Not Exempt From Paying Taxes

Unfortunately, being pregnant only offers so many benefits, and not having to pay taxes isn’t one of them. According to Patriot Software, you have to pay taxes on your maternity leave paycheck as well as any disability benefits you may receive. However, if you’re paying for the benefits yourself, then you won’t be charged any tax fees. Keep in mind that this is another issue that varies based on your location.

It’s important to know this information before going on maternity leave because it’ll save you from a lot of stress. Being pregnant is already a challenge, so having extra worries on your plate will certainly make things harder. Remember to keep these tips in mind as you inform your boss about going on maternity leave. If you experience any kind of problem or set back, retain the services of an attorney just in case things take a turn for the worst.

Insurance may cover prenatal lactation visits

The Affordable Care Act mandated coverage of lactation support services by private insurance companies, with just a few exceptions. While many expectant parents are aware that they can use their benefits after the baby is born, most policies also cover lactation education and support in the prenatal period. We recommend meeting with your IBCLC before you have your baby to get the best start to breastfeeding.

And if you need help with things after your baby is born, take advantage of our postpartum consultations!

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