Your Workplace Rights

Workplace Rights After Pregnancy

1. Your job will be protected for up to 12 weeks.

The FMLA allows you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from your job every year to care for a newborn or newly-adopted child, to care for a seriously ill family member or to recover from your own serious health condition. If you take time off under this law, you have the right to the same job or a job with equal pay and benefits when you come back to work. You may also be covered by a more generous local or state law, so be sure to check. Note: The FMLA applies to you if you work for a company with 50 or more employees, or a state, local, or federal government, and have worked for your employer for one year and at least 1,250 hours during the previous year.

2. As a father, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Under FMLA, fathers are entitled to unpaid paternity leave. You and your spouse can take the leave at the same time, you can overlap your leaves, or you can take them at different times, as long as both leaves are completed with one year of your child's birth.

3. As an adoptive parent, you are entitled to up to 12 weeks unpaid leave.

This typically begins when you first take actual custody of the child. But if necessary, your employer is also required to give you unpaid leave beforehand if you need to take care of things that are required for the adoption to proceed.

4. You need not take all 12 weeks of leave consecutively.

If your employer agrees, you may take leave a few weeks at a time, though once you've physically recovered from birth, you must complete non-medical maternity/paternity leave within a year of your child's birth.

5. Breastfeeding is not covered under federal law, but some states do protect a mother's right to breastfeed at job sites and other public places.

Check out the La Leche Leagues web site,, which has a state-by-state rundown of current breast-feeding legislation.

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