Pregnancy Leave Laws: What Are Your Rights?

Pregnancy leave laws, what are your rights with your employer during pregnancy?

Dear Boss, I am pregnant. What are your rights with your employer during pregnancy?

You should know what is required of you and your employer by law, both during your pregnancy and your maternity leave.

Pregnancy and maternity leave rights are governed by the Family and Medical Leave Act. It is a good idea to be familiar with these laws while you are employed, especially if you are pregnant. The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to employers that have 50 or more employees. So, if you are working for a small business you are not protected by these laws but certainly if you talk to your employer and are courteous to them they will work something out for you. If you do work for a large company, you have to have been employed by them for at least 12 months and have worked 1250 hours during that time. If you are pregnant and you have morning sickness and you are finding it hard to work full days, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows you to work half days. This is called reduced leave. There is also intermittent leave that allows you to call in sick whenever your morning sickness is really bad, once or twice a week if need be.

You will need a doctor's note to be able to take either of these leaves to be protected under the Act. First of all, you are required to give reasonable notice to your boss of your intended pregnancy leave. After your pregnancy is noticeable, sometime during the second trimester, it is a good idea to let your boss know that you intend to take some time off after the baby is born. Discuss with him how much time this will be.

While you are pregnant, your employer can only change your position at work if your pregnancy renders you unable to do the duties of that position. For example, if your inability to perform a certain duty can endanger another employee safety then they can change your position or put you on temporary leave. They can not, however, change

your position because you or your baby's life or health is endangered. Only you can decide to change your position in this case if you or your baby's health is endangered. If you choose not to put you or your baby in danger, like working with chemicals, then your employer has to give you another position. If another position is not available in either case, you can be put on temporary leave of absence.

Maternity leave is for the health and medical recovery of the mother. It is not a time granted to you to bond with your baby. The Family Medical Leave Act allows 12 weeks for uncomplicated deliveries and more for cesareans. Your employer only needs to pay you what he would normally pay all other medically disabled employees. If you have sick time coming then you are entitled to it during your leave. Check with your state to see if they offer disability payments during your maternity leave.

Your employer is required to reinstate you with the same pay at your same job or to a position equivalent to your old job, once you return from maternity leave. This means that the position must have the same pay, duties, geographical location, hours, working conditions, benefits and opportunities for advancements.

Be informed and be protected!

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