How Much Time Off to Take?
The U.S. is one of only four industrialized nations that doesn't require all employers to offer paid maternity leave. But don't freak out yet. About half of new moms manage to get it, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Arm yourself with this information before you approach your boss.
Company policy Check your employee handbook or company Web site to find out what your employer officially offers. Then talk to other new moms to find out how much leave they took and what portion of it was paid. Many employers expect workers to use sick days, vacation time, and their short-term disability insurance (usually for six weeks) to cover the "paid" portion of their leave.
State laws So far, New Jersey, California, and Washington have passed laws requiring certain employers to give new parents time off with pay. Other states have laws mandating certain amounts of unpaid leave.
Federal laws Depending on where you work, you may be covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This requires companies with more than 50 employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. You may be exempt from FMLA if you've worked at your job for less than a year or worked only part-time.