Maternity leave gives new moms an opportunity to bond with their child. What happens, though, if you want extra time off. Understand your maternity leave options as you decide how to maximize your leave time and enjoy your child.
Paid Maternity Leave
Many employers offer paid maternity leave. You’ll find details in your employee manual and from your human resources manager. While average maternity leaves last 12 weeks, your employer may offer additional time off, including paid paternity leave.
Vacation and Sick Days
When you have vacation and sick days saved, apply them toward your maternity leave. You’ll receive pay for those days, but you won’t have them to use later in the year when you might really need that time.
Short-Term Disability Insurance
Your short-term disability insurance coverage might include maternity leave coverage. Select this option, and you’ll typically receive half of your normal salary and a benefit cap. Short-term disability coverage also typically starts after your paid maternity leave ends.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
You may be eligible for FMLA if you have worked more than 1,250 hours over the last 12 months for a covered employer with more than 50 employees in the U.S. Under FMLA guidelines, eligible employees receive 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, foster or adopted child or to care for a child who’s affected by a serious health condition. You may also be able to divide the weeks into chunks depending on your employer. While it’s an attractive option, remember that you may need to use vacation and sick days before taking FMLA.
If you find that your employer doesn’t offer enough time off, ask about unpaid leave. It keeps your job secure, but make sure you have enough money saved for living expenses since you won’t receive a paycheck.
When you’re preparing to welcome a new child into the world, understand your maternity leave options. They help you maximize your time away from work as you care for your family.