Your Maternity Leave Plan of Action

Find Out Your Company's Policies

Next, check your corporate Website or read through your employee handbook to see what your employer officially offers, such as paid maternity leave or short-term disability insurance, which generally pays 40 to 60 percent of your salary for a set amount of time. "It's typically six weeks if you have a vaginal delivery and may be eight weeks if you have a cesarean," says Marjorie Greenfield, M.D., an ob-gyn and author of The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book. If you have paid leave, it will likely begin after your period of disability is over.

Also figure out how many sick days, personal days, comp days, and vacation days you're entitled to this year, realizing that there's a possibility your employer will require you to use them to cover a portion of your leave if you're entitled to it under the FMLA. However, your employer has the option to determine how you use them. "Companies don't want you to take 12 weeks from FMLA, plus another four weeks of vacation, two of sick leave, and five of disability, so that you're gone for almost six months," says Washington, D.C., attorney and employment-law expert Lily Garcia. Instead, someone with this benefits package is likely to get a total of 12 weeks off from work: four weeks of vacation, two weeks of sick leave, five weeks at partial pay on disability, and a final week of unpaid leave thanks to the FMLA.

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