Getting Smart with Maternity Leave

By: Heather Keniston

The US doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the fine print of maternity leave. On the other hand, expecting moms, adopting moms, and new parents might just have a light at the end of the tunnel. For starters, in the United States, maternity leave is a growing conversation in the labor force. There are 180 countries that are already far ahead of the United States when it comes to maternity leave, but the fact that the US is now opening those doors is HUGE news for this movement.

 According to an article from CBN news, first daughter Ivanka Trump, mom of 3, is pushing the agenda of relief for moms. However not every political party is thrilled about the proposed idea of paying for maternity leave with tax-dollars. No matter your political preference, maternity leave is a discussion worth having because it affects the majority of our workforce today.

But for now, knowing the current options in the United States for maternity leave is beneficial knowledge to have when you go into your boss’s office and tell them you’re expecting.

1. Paid Maternity Leave

There are currently no paid maternity leave regulations in the US, however; some companies have stepped up and offered paid maternity leave such as Walmart, Starbucks, and Ikea, according to USA Today. This is so great, but still, according to Pew Research Center in 2016, only 14% of workers were provided paid maternity leave.

Obviously, it would be so great to get paid maternity leave. No matter where you are financially, having a source of income while you’re caring for your baby would be great. Maybe you’re wondering what your company provides, but having those conversations up-front with your boss can be a bit intimidating. We found a great resource from FairyGodboss that allows you to search by company name or industry to inquire about their maternity leave options. One thing to note, the information may not be 100% accurate because the information is obtained from their users, but it allows a little insight into your company. 

One last point about paid maternity leave is there are some states that offer paid leave, so if you live in California, New Jersey, or Rhode Island, you’re guaranteed paid leave. Washington D.C., New York, and Washington state are all close to creating paid leave options.

2. Unpaid through Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

 Approximately 6 in 10 Americans can take, at most, 12 weeks of work leave with benefits, without fear of losing their jobs. This sounds great, but the reality is, due to finances, sometimes moms can’t afford to go this route even though they're eligible. FMLA covers all agencies, school systems, and companies that have more than 50 employees according to the

US Department of Labor. The situations FMLA applies to are childbirth, adoption or foster care, immediate family member care, or an individual medical case.

In order to qualify, you must have worked for the company for 1,250 hours at minimum, work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.

One thing to note with FMLA, most companies will require that you’ve exhausted every other avenue possible before you can use FMLA. This includes all your sick days, vacation time, and any personal days.

3. Short-Term Disability (STD)

Some companies offer and financially cover as a benefit. This is a form of insurance and you would be eligible to receive 50-100% of your salary after you give birth for a certain number of weeks (usually 6) according to What to Expect.

Depending on your method of delivery, any complications during birth, or bed rest prior to delivery, your plan can change. One key thing to know about this option is talking to your HR department at your job. They will know more information about what you might would be entitled to.

Now that you’ve learned a little more about what your maternity leave will look like, your next step is to talk to your boss. One helpful tip we suggest is think of almost everything. By this, we mean you need to stress to your boss that you love your job and want to make this as easy of a process as possible. This may mean you must train someone to cover your position, allocate key tasks to other people or departments, or be available via phone or email some during your maternity leave to provide further instruction. On the flip side of that, it may just make you more comfortable to have someone touch base with you while you’re gone.

Regardless, you should determine, with your boss, the best possible solution for you and your company. Once your little one comes, you will want to know what to expect in terms of your job. It will be the only thing you can plan for and control and it will allow you to focus more on being home with your little one.

We wish you all the best in this new undertaking. You will adjust and you will find normal again, we promise. When the time comes for you to return to work, we are here to make that transition in feeding as smooth as possible.


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