Here you’ll find tips to help you prepare for maternity leave.
Are you in that place?
That place where eight hours of sleep is impossible, work needs to get done even while your baby does aerobics on your bladder, and now you have to figure out maternity leave.
I get it.
Prior to my own pregnancy, I had very little knowledge about the details of maternity leave policies. I didn’t know how it worked and honestly some parts of the technical language was overwhelming.
This post was written to help you manage your maternity leave efficiently.
STEP 1: LEARN ABOUT MATERNITY LEAVE LAWS
FMLA is the acronym for The Family Medical Leave Act: This act ensures that new parents/employees who work for employers with more than 50 employees, with a minimum of one year and 1250 hours on the job can take off up to 12 weeks off, to care for their newborn.
Only 12% of American workers employed in the private sector qualify for FMLA. Crazy!!!
If you do qualify for FMLA, your job is protected within the guidelines of the law but your leave may be unpaid. The Federal FMLA does not require your employer to continue paying you.
What about health benefits?
The FMLA requires that your employer continues to pay your health insurance the same as if you were working.
Make sure you know how your health insurance payments will be handled if you do not have sick time or vacation time to cover your leave.
Although my employer continued to pay for my insurance. I had to pay out-of-pocket for my premiums that were previously taken out of my paychecks to keep my insurance up-to-date.
STEP 2: FIND OUT IF YOUR STATE OFFERS PAID MATERNITY LEAVE
FMLA is Federal Law. What about State Laws?
States have their own laws as it pertains to maternity leave. In my state of North Carolina leave is unpaid but there are currently 3 states that offer paid leave: California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island; New York will begin in 2018. Each state has different requirements for using this leave.
STEP 3: INQUIRE ABOUT YOUR EMPLOYER’S MATERNITY LEAVE POLICIES
Employers have their own maternity leave policies too!
My employer basically had policies that adhered to the federal FMLA; however, employers have the option to offer more than the minimum federal and state requirements for maternity leave.
Often this information is readily available on your company’s internal website.
RELATED: IT COST THIS MUCH TO HAVE A BABY!
STEP 4: SET UP A MEETING WITH THE HR REP THAT HANDLES MATERNITY PAPERWORK AND ASSISTANCE
I read all the policies and I thought I understood everything about the maternity leave process but I felt it was still important to have a meeting with my HR rep. And…I’m glad I did!
My HR rep gave me the paperwork I needed to submit to my doctor prior to my leave, documents for me and my supervisor to complete on my last working day prior to my leave, and documents that needed to be completed prior to returning to work. She didn’t miss a beat.
It was my first pregnancy but she deals with people who are pregnant in the workplace all the time. I was happy to get all the extra tidbits she offered!
This meeting also gave me a chance to create a professional relationship with someone who could answer any questions I had, even while I was out of the office.
STEP 5: MEET WITH YOUR SUPERVISOR
This may be a no-brainer but even if your supervisor is aware you are pregnant, sit down and have a quick meeting to talk about the upcoming changes in your work availability. If a meeting isn’t ideal for your situation consider writing a maternity leave letter that outlines specific details and dates.
If you are a good worker (and you are ;-)) your supervisor will hopefully want to help you make the transition to maternity leave and back as easy as possible.
Having a productive conversation should answer these questions:
- How will your workload be covered while you are out?
- What things can you do before you leave to assist your work team?
- What paperwork needs to be completed by the supervisor and employee? When should it be submitted?
- Do you have plans to return to work after your leave?
STEP 6: COMPLETE THE PAPERWORK & MAKE COPIES
In the earlier steps, you learned what documents need to be completed.
I filled out the HR and medical documents and submitted them early as possible.
Also, I made sure to make copies of all the signed documents and emailed them to an email address I would have access to while away from work.
STEP 7: BEGIN SAVING FOR BABY EXPENSES AND MATERNITY LEAVE WEEKS
THE FUTURE OF MATERNITY LEAVE
While I was looking at how the U.S. handles maternity leave, I began looking at other nations and honestly, as a nation we fall wayyyy behind on having progressive maternity leave policies.
In fact, at a time when many women should be focused on bonding with baby, American women have to deal with large bills and returning to work before we are ready sometimes. Other women, in even less fortunate situations (with no insurance or qualifications for FMLA) have to face the possibility of joblessness.
It’s an issue that needs to be addressed on every level and it starts with education.
POSITIVE CHANGES HAPPENING IN THE WORKPLACE FOR WOMEN
Although the USA isn’t making fast changes on this issue, employers are beginning to make positive changes that show an interest in supporting family building.
In 2015 only 12% of workers at private companies had paid leave available to them but change is happening some private companies have recently updated their leave policies to impressive levels.
5 Maternity Leave Policies You Will Not Believe:
- Netflix offers unlimited paid leave for the first year, after the birth of a child!
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation offers 52 weeks of paid leave!
- Adobe offers 26 weeks of paid maternity leave!
- Microsoft offers 20 weeks of paid maternity leave!
- Amazon offers 20 weeks of paid leave for moms!
I’m hopeful that my little one, when she gets of age, will be in a working community that has policies that better reflect care and value for the work-family balance.
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HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE DEALING WITH MATERNITY LEAVE?