Can I get paid during maternity leave?

Question:

I'm pregnant and will have saved up a couple weeks of vacation by the time I have the baby. My company also provides two weeks of paid parental leave for new parents. I know I can take up to 12 weeks off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Can I use my paid leave at the same time? Are there any other laws or programs I can use to get paid for this time off?

Answer:

As you point out, the FMLA gives employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off for certain medical and caretaking reasons, including bonding with a new child. Only employers with at least 50 employees must comply with the law, and employees must meet certain eligibility requirements. (See Taking Family and Medical Leave for more information.)

FMLA leave is unpaid. However, you have the right to use your accrued vacation or sick pay during your FMLA leave, as long as you meet the other requirements of your employer's policies. For example, if your employer requires you to give 30 days' notice before using paid vacation, you must give this much notice in order to use your vacation days during FMLA leave. Likewise, if your employer's sick leave policy allows time off only for an employee's own sickness, you can use your sick pay only for the time when you are unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth.

You might also have a right to be paid for some or all of your time off through a state program. A handful of states have temporary disability programs, which pay employees a percentage of their usual wages while they are temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy or childbirth. (See State Short-Term Disability Benefits to learn more.) If you work in one of these states, you can collect disability payments while you're unable to work.

A few states also offer paid family leave benefits, which provide partial wage replacements to employees who take time off to bond with a new child. (See Paid Family Leave for more information.) In the states that offer both temporary disability and paid family leave benefits, you can receive disability benefits while you're recovering from pregnancy or childbirth, and then switch to paid family leave while you're physically able to work but want more time off with your baby.

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