Understanding Your Maternal Leave Entitlement Under The FMLA

If you and your spouse are expecting a child, you are entitled to maternal leave under the FMLA. Fathers are also entitled to parental leave to care for the new baby and mother. In most circumstances, if you are in the process of finalizing an adoption or foster arrangement, you are eligible for parental leave as well. Your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you for exercising your maternal leave entitlement and this can include anything from an unfair termination to reducing your hours.

Who Is Entitled to Maternal Leave Under the FMLA?


If you belong to any of the below categories, you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave:
• Public employee
• Federal government employee
• Private employee working with a company with more than 50 employees and engaged in commerce across states

Even if you work for a private company, keep in mind that state laws can require your employer to provide maternity leave under the FMLA.

In addition, the following criteria has to be met:
• You are the mother or father of the child
• You were employed full-time by the company for the past 12 months
• The 12 weeks of unpaid leave is taken within 12 months of the child’s birth, or placement for a foster/adopted child

Your employer may allow you to spread out the 12 weeks of leave across the year. However, if you and your spouse work for the same company, you may not be able to take parental leave concurrently. While 12 weeks is the maximum entitlement for the delivery of a healthy child, you may be entitled to more if either mother or baby suffered from post-birth complications.

What About Paid Maternity Leave?

While many new parents appreciate the time off work to care for and bond with their baby, taking unpaid leave can be an unviable option for those with financial difficulty. Some states, including New York, New Jersey, California, Connecticut and more offer a paid family leave program. Familiarize yourself with your state laws beforehand so you know your legal entitlements.


Some employers may offer their own parental leave program or allow you to claim sick leave as part of your maternity leave. Understand your rights well in advance to ensure that you are not short charged any part of what you are entitled to.


Turn to Carcich O’Shea For Pregnancy Discrimination Representation

Has your employer barred you from taking maternal leave? Or have you been treated unfairly after returning to work from parental leave? If so, you may have a case for pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. At Carcich O’Shea, LLC, our attorneys are well-versed in the latest pregnancy nondiscrimination laws and will see to it that your rights are fairly represented when you engage our services.
Contact us today if you would like to discuss what can be done to ensure you do not experience discrimination in the workplace as a result of your pregnancy or parental obligations.

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