Maternity Leave: Know What You're Entitled To

Maternity leave guidelines differ from state to state, so it's important to know what applies to you.


The United States is the only high-income nation in the world that doesn't require employers to offer paid maternity leave. On the bright side, federal law covers unpaid leave, and some employers offer unpaid leave. Here are some quick guidelines. First, there's paid leave. Some lucky parents get fully or partially paid leave from their employers. And some states have their own Family Leave Acts that may entitle you to either paid time off or additional unpaid time off. Check your state's official website to see what applies to you. As for unpaid leave the Family and Medical Leave Act allows women to take 12 weeks off without fear of losing their jobs or health insurance. But the law only applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. And you must have worked at least 12 months for the company to qualify. If you're a part time employee, you must have worked 1,250 hours in the past year. Keep in mind, if you need time off before the baby arrives or longer to recuperate after birth. That counts against your 12 weeks of leave. Another option is to mix it up. Some women combine short term disability, sick leave, vacation days, and unpaid family leave to maximize their time off. Check with human resources at work. You could also stagger your 12 weeks of unpaid leave if your employer allows it. To gradually return to work so you still get time with your baby but also have some income coming in. As you prepare for your new arrival, make sure this is the one thing you check off your to-do list. [MUSIC]

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