How Does Maternity Leave Work?
There are three main ways to get maternity leave in the United States. However, not all of these are paid. Therefore, while you may be allowed to leave your job for awhile to take care of yourself or a family member, you may not be getting paid while you are out.
- Federal – no requirement to provide pay
- State – paid, rates will vary on the size of the company and that state
- Employer – if your employer actually provides maternity leave, this will always be paid
Maternity Leave at the Federal Level
In the United States, the federal government does not provide any monetary assistance to women who are pregnant and need time off work. The one thing you can rely upon the federal government for during pregnancy and after the birth of you child, is the FMLA. FMLA stands for Family and Medical Leave Act. It is a federal law that “provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that their group health benefits be maintained during the leave.” In other words, you can not work for up to 12 weeks and you will still have a job when you get back. Also, during that time, you will keep the medical coverage that your employer was providing for you prior to your leave.
The obvious and major downside to this law, is that it is unpaid. This law makes no requirement that an employer must pay you during that time. Also, while you are allowed to keep the medical coverage under the same plan as the employer, you are also required to pay that amount yourself.
Maternity Leave at the State Level
“Only three states — California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — currently offer paid family and medical leave” (More info here).
Maternity Leave at the Employer Level
Maternity Leave at the employer level, is left entirely up to the employer and can range anywhere from no paid time off to 56 weeks of full pay, or more. Again, this is entirely up to each individual employer and will vary greatly from employer to employer. There is no guarantee and there are no rules about what an employer must provide