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What Working Women Need to Know About Maternity Leave and FMLA

Answers to frequently asked questions about the FMLA

by Catherine Caporusso  |  14393 views  |  2 comments  |        Rate this now! 

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is now 15 years old and has allowed thousands of American moms and dads the right to take a leave without worrying about losing their jobs. Here are answers to common questions about the law, as well as some ideas for what you can do if you are not covered under it. But please note that this information does not constitute legal advice.

1.) Am I covered under the family and medical leave act? The Family and Medical Leave Act applies to the government and employers who have 50 or more employees. You have a right to take leave under the act if you have worked for your employer for at least a year and at least 1,250 hours in the past year.

2.) What are my rights under the FMLA? If you are covered by the FMLA, your employer must give you 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for the birth or adoption of a child, dealing with your own serious health condition, or caring for a family member who has a serious health condition. A new amendment to the law grants leave for family members of military personnel who are recovering from serious injuries.

3.) Do I get to return to the same job? After you return from your leave, you must be placed in the same job or an equivalent job, unless you are a "key" employee and keeping your job open would cause severe economic problems to your employer. Then they can replace you.

4.) What happens to my health insurance? You should continue to receive health insurance just as you did before you went on the leave. If you have health insurance that your employer pays for, your employer should keep paying it as before the leave.  If you don’t return to work after the leave, your employer can ask you to pay back this money (with certain exceptions). 

5.) Do I have to take the maternity leave at all one time? Not necessarily. If your employer agrees to it, you can take "intermittent" leave, which means taking time off in smaller increments, over the course of the year following the birth or adoption.

6.) What sort of notice should I give my employer? The FMLA requires 30 days notice if you can predict that you will have to take a leave, but if you know less than 30 days in advance, you must tell your employer as soon as you can. Practically speaking, this usually means that you ask for the maternity leave before the due date and then notify your employer immediately upon the birth of the child.

About the Author

Chicago employment lawyer and mother of two.

Read more by Catherine Caporusso

2 comments so far...

  • I also worked in a male dominant group and I did not really enjoy it, they where not the worst in the world and I did get some support but the worst of all was when they took the mickey of my size and the Maternity Clothes I wore, the where fashionable but they did not do me any good for my confidence, the men that is.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by gavelect on 17th June 2009

  • Unfortunately for me, I worked in a male dominant group. I had no support whatsoever from my boss(es)..I was on my desk three days after a c-section. .. I know Karma will catch up to these men.. because they will born a woman in their next life!

    On a lighter note, I am currently enjoy the freedom of being self-employed.. and my precious daughter!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by christine on 2nd June 2008