Existing Clients 404-214-0120

B&F Blog

What is Maternity Leave and Do You Qualify?

Posted by Kathy Harrington-Sullivan | Jul 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

The United States prides itself on its family values. But when compared to other industrialized countries – and even developing countries – its respect of maternity leave is at the bottom of the list. In fact, the U.S. is the only high-income nation that doesn't offer paid maternity leave, placing it among the ranks of Liberia and Swaziland. In the U.S., only 11 percent of private workers have access to paid family leave.

Overall, there's no overarching federal policy that requires every company to provide paid or unpaid maternity leave. Therefore, it's up to moms- and dads-to-be to understand the rights you do have in order to take the time necessary to bond with your little one.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The most prevalent means by which new mother's take off time from work is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows parents to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave to welcome a child to their home, whether by birth or by adoption, and to ensure that their job – or an equivalent job – is waiting for them when they return to work. In order to qualify, your company must employ 50 employees within a 75-mile radius, and you must have worked at the company for one year and logged 1,250 hours the past year. Remember that FMLA is job protection, but it is not a means of compensation during your absence.

Short-Term Disability

Unlike FMLA, short-term disability insurance is a means of receiving compensation during your leave. Frequently, your short-term disability policy will pay a portion of your income while you are on FMLA leave or other leave that your employer may offer. In many instances, your company may offer short-term disability insurance (STD) that they cover or for which the employee pays a monthly premium. In general, STD may pay up to 60 percent of your salary while you are on leave. While six weeks is the standard, often new mothers are covered up to eight weeks if they have a caesarian delivery or other complications. Look to your individual plan description for coverage and duration of your particular policy.

Resources for Those Not Covered at Work

So where does that leave everyone else? Unfortunately, for many, there is no coverage at all, especially for part-time workers or workers who just started their positions. There's no guarantee their jobs will exist when they return, and in many cases, these mothers don't take the six weeks medical professionals recommend. Twelve states, such as California and Washington, along with the District of Columbia, have tried to fill in the gaps by establishing state maternity laws that cover a higher percentage of workers.

Overall, the U.S. has a long way to go in giving moms the time needed to bond with their children. The Field School of Public Health at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that maternity leave is associated with lower infant mortality rates, a higher rate of breastfeeding which strengthens the health of infants, and benefits to a woman's health. Accordingly, women's rights issues are a continuing issue of national concern and deserve the public's ongoing attention.

About the Author

Kathy Harrington-Sullivan

Kathy Harrington Sullivan is a Partner at Barrett & Farahany and manages the firm's case evaluation team. Because knowledge truly is power, Kathy and the Atlanta employment attorneys on her team regularly consult with and empower potentia...

Comments

There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

We Do Things Differently.

When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.

Menu