What exactly is maternity leave what should be your to-do list? We have answered all your questions regarding taking time off work after giving birth, including the number of weeks you're entitled to, how much you can ask for and more. There are some companies that may not offer any maternity or paternal leave, and even if they do, you may not be eligible for it. Here is everything you need to know to protect and understand your maternity and paternal leave rights.
What is maternity leave?
Maternity leave is the time when a female employee, who is pregnant, leaves from work to give birth to her child. Maternity leave is commonly known as family leave. Women who are looking forward to adopting a child can also ask for a family leave.
Is maternity leave paid?
United States of America is the only high-income nation in the world which doesn't offer any paid maternity or paternal leave. Other nations that do not offer paid maternity or paternal leave are Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. And while some of the companies do offer paid maternity leave, the majority of the companies do not.
Your best bet would be to fix a meeting with the company's Human Resources Department to know that which policies are in place. If wish to continue receiving your weekly pay check while you are out on a maternity or paternal leave, you would need to use your vacation, sick or your personal days. Certain companies that are "family friendly", do offer paid leaves, but many of the companies don’t.
It is more likely that if you receive any pay check, it would come through disability insurance, that generally provides two weeks off before the due date and six after a vaginal delivery, or approximately 8 weeks after a caesarean section. The percentage of salary which you would receive, fully depends on the company and the benefit plan that you have selected. You might even be allowed to use your personal, sick, and the vacation days for your paternal leave.
How long is maternity leave?
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, companies can provide their employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave per year. If you need a leave for bed rest before your delivery, or if you need to stay home for more time, that time would be counted against your 12 weeks of maternity leave.
How much maternity leave should I ask for?
There exists no magic formula to calculate the perfect time period for a family leave. It completely depends on your job, you and your baby, even the place you live and what time of year it is.
What's more typical? It is the new mother who is forced, for reasons such as job security, finance or the workplace demands, to return to her work desk much before she feels physically and emotionally ready.
So, what are you supposed to do? Ask the employer for as much time as you can possibly avail, as long as it would not hamper your job and you can afford it pretty easily. For most of the companies, about 12 weeks of maternity leave is standard, but anything closer to 6 months is not uncommon.
Always remember, that you can always ask for less time after your baby is born. The employee who calls up her employer to say that she is ready to come back 2 weeks earlier than the scheduled date of return, would win more admiration from her employer than the one who calls to beg for a few more weeks in the eleventh hour. Make sure that you don't sell yourself short up front.
How much maternity leave am I entitled to by law?
Your first question is most likely to be, that how much maternity leave are you entitled to by law? There is only one answer to your question and it is a bit complicated. The answer is, it all depends on the laws, where you work, the size of your company and who is your employer.
The federal FMLA or the Family and Medical Leave Act, gives the workers the right to at most 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for their adopted or the new born babies. But there are certain catches here as well. The law only covers the organisations that employ at least 50 or more workers; you must be on the payroll for a year at least, before the leave policies can be applied and you must have put 1,250 hours at least, during that year.
If you don’t belong to a big company, don't despair. You might still be entitled to a maternal leave, but a shorter one, under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. This law covers the organisations with 15 or more workers, needs the employers to treat pregnant employees the same as any other disabled worker would be treated. Moreover, several localities and states do have more generous leave laws, so you can be entitled to even more leaves.
Your ultimate maternity leave to-do list
Preparing for maternity leave is a big challenge for most moms-to-be. It is true, whether you are dropping out of the workforce indefinitely or only for a few weeks or months. Here's how you can make it a smooth transition.
- Go through your employer's maternity leave policy. Reach out to a human resources staff member if you have any queries or doubts.
- You can ask the employer if you can use your vacation, sick or holiday time.
- Ask what effects would your leave have on your health insurance and other benefits.
- If your company does not provide any maternity leaves, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for some of the workers after the birth of a child but be sure to provide a 30 days' notice.
- Make sure you tell your boss the best way to reach you when you are on family leave.
- Try to wrap up your remaining work before you go for leave. Tying up the loose ends would make you feel more organized and your co-workers would appreciate that too.
- Take away and remove all your personal belongings and clear your work desk.
- Make an "out of office" responder for your work e-mail and remember to change your voicemail greeting.
- Create a hand-off document to summarize the status of the pending projects.