Maternity Leave Overview
Maternity leave usually refers to time taken off from work prior to and after giving birth to a child. However, in the modern workplace the term parental leave has typically come to replace maternity leave. It may come as some surprise that laws covering maternity and/or parental leave are relatively new in the United States.
Prospective parents are often understandably concerned with the amount of time they can take off from work prior to, and after, the birth of a child. Along with that, typically follows a concern about whether the leave they take will be paid, and if so, how much? A number of laws can come into play with regard to parental leave, as well as coverage for wages.
Parental Leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act
As far as the amount of time that a parent may take off from work, the good news is that parental leave is guaranteed for many workers under the federal law known as the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Under the Act, a covered employee is entitled to 12 weeks of leave within any given 12-month time period. On the down side, this leave is not required to be paid for by the employer. Still, an employee may be able to use accrued vacation time or paid time off (PTO) in order to receive their full wages while away from work.
See also:>> Am I covered by the FMLA?
Short Term Disability (STD)
Another possible source of income for employees on parental leave are short term disability benefits, often referred to as STD. There are multiple potential sources for such benefits. Some states provide short term disability benefits for employees, and when available, these state-sponsored STD benefits may provide a percentage of your typical wages (between one-half to two-thirds in most cases). The duration of state sponsored STD benefits can vary from anywhere between 4 to 12 weeks, but 6 weeks of coverage is a standard number for a delivery with no complications.
There are also private and employer-sponsored STD benefit plans that can apply towards maternity leave. These plans vary as far as their coverage, how long they last, and the percentage of wages covered. If your employer provides a short term disability plan, details on the amount of coverage offered, as well as the duration, will be included in the plan documents, or you can contact an HR representative with any questions.
Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.