What Do Employees Need To Know About Maternity Leave?

What exactly is maternity leave?

Maternity leave is free time that new moms can utilize to care for their newborn children. Usually most companies refer to maternity leave as maternal leave. This type of leave provides new parents the ability to care for the child (Ren). Mother’s usually take about 6 weeks of maternity leave per year.

Most employers offer some kind of maternity leave benefits to employees. These benefits vary from company to company. However most companies require employees to have maternity leave when they first become pregnant. Employees are typically given either twelve weeks of unpaid maternity leave or sixty-five days of unpaid parental leave. An employee must be employed with the company for a period of one year in order to qualify for maternity or parental leave benefits.

Most companies offer their employees paid maternity and/or paternity leave benefits.

Many of these employers offer the option of extended benefits once the infant is weaned. For most companies it is very expensive to pay for employees childcare, especially if the employee is holding down a regular full-time job. Paid maternity and paternity leave programs allow for a reduced amount of childcare while an employee is on maternity leave. Most of these paid maternity and paternity leave programs provide for continued coverage once the infant is weaned.

For those employees who do not qualify for extended unemployment benefits there are several options available for maternity and paternity leave. Some of these options are: (I) short-term leave, (ii) deferred compensation, (iii) vision care, (iv) hospitalization and diagnostic imaging fees. Short-term leave can be used to cover the period immediately following a pregnancy and childbirth. Deferred compensation may be used to cover additional periods of maternity and paternity leave if the employee is not eligible for an extended period of employment and the employer does not supply an alternative pregnancy-term or a new start at the end of existing maternity or paternity leave.

It is important to be aware that federal, state, and local laws will determine the exact coverage details

Short-term or deferring compensation can be used in conjunction with an employee’s existing entitlement to disability insurance to provide for a short time period of missed work. This would require the consent of the employee. Another method of short-term leave available to employees is deferred maternity compensation. In this situation, the period of coverage is generally one year and the employee generally accrues a certain amount of sick leave upon signing up. (There are certain situations where the discrimination act applies and requires an employee to remain covered during maternity leave but does not apply to this situation)

As a result, it is recommended that employees receive a free, no-obligation, health screening prior to enrolling in any plan. It is also recommended that prospective employees seek legal advice and understand their rights under federal, state, and local laws. An employee can obtain more detailed information on their rights and options by contacting a highly skilled labor attorney.

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