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  Maternity Leave

Understanding Your Maternity Leave Rights

If you’re thinking about having a baby, the question about what your rights are as far as your job is concerned has probably come up. And if you’re like most mothers-to-be, you’ve probably already looked into what type of maternity leave your employer offers. Unfortunately, some women don’t know that there are minimum requirements in place with regards to maternity leave. A violation of these laws can open an employer up for a lawsuit.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Unfortunately, these laws only apply to companies that have fifty or more employees – if you work for a small business; you’re not eligible for protection under these laws. However, even if you work for a large corporation, you still may not be protected. The laws specifically state that you must be a full time employee, have worked with the company for at least 12 months, and have put in over 1,250 hours during those 12 months. If you meet these requirements, the Family and Medical Leave Act applies to you.

If you have difficulty working throughout your pregnancy – due to morning sickness or other problems – this law also allows you to work half-days as needed. Of course, you’ll need a doctor’s note for your employer to be excused under this provision.

Once you’ve decided to tell your employer that you’re pregnant, you may want to discuss your job duties and how they could be best handled during your absence. You’re required, by law, to give your employer reasonable notice when it comes to your pregnancy leave, which allows your boss to schedule others around your absence.

If you aren’t able to do your job in the same capacity as you did before you were pregnant, or if there are dangers to the baby or yourself from working while pregnant, your doctor should also provide a note stating as much. However, your employer doesn’t have to give you another position – they can put you on a temporary leave absence if you aren’t able to complete your regularly scheduled duties.

The Family Medical Leave Act allows new parents to take 12 weeks off after the birth, although not necessarily at the same pay rate as you regularly make. Your employer must pay you what they pay other employers that become medically disabled – oftentimes, this will be around two-thirds of your normal pay, although some generous employers pay your full wage during your maternity leave. You are also allowed to use sick and personal time in your absence, and some states offer disability insurance that can help cover your expenses during maternity leave.

Your employer – if you’re covered under the Family Medical Leave Act – must reinstate you to your regular rate of pay, hours, location, benefits, and position or equal position, when you return to work. You shouldn’t be subject to any kind of disciplinary problems, a reduction in pay or benefits, or the loss of a promotion due to taking medical leave for having a baby.

As you can see, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to the Family Medical Leave Act. These laws are in place to protect pregnant mothers from being fired or demoted due to pregnancy. These laws, however, also apply to a new father, and many men take advantage of these policies to spend more time with their new family members. If you aren’t covered under the Act, don’t panic – check the local and state laws in your area to see if there are others regulations in place for companies with fewer than fifty employees.

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