Q: I just found out I'm pregnant! Do I get paid leave when I give birth?
A: Not automatically =(
Strap yourself in - there's three questions to answer in order to find out (click the question to show the answer):
1. How big is your employer?
First off let's see if you qualify for unpaid leave to keep your job secure when your family needs you.
If your workplace has 50 or more employees you may be able to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave during a 12 month period.
This is through a federal law called the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA for short, and there’s a couple of important catches.
First, you must have worked there for at least 12 Months and worked 1,250 hours in those 12 months. Second, your employer must have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your workplace.
FMLA leave is not granted automatically and 40% of working people are not eligible. There’s a process you have to follow to request it. Here’s the official guide to FMLA to find how that works and lots more.
2. Does your workplace offer paid leave?
While not guaranteed, some workplaces do offer paid maternity and parental leave - though it might not be fully paid and may not be open to non-birthing parents.
The first step is to check with your HR department or your manager.
If it is paid, that doesn’t always mean its fully-paid -- it could be partially paid leave, or technically sick leave or a short-term disability policy.
If you work as an independent contractor, you may be eligible for paid leave under a state insurance program - see #3 below.
3. Does your state have a paid family leave insurance program?
Four states ensure paid parental leave for most employees -- CA, NJ, NY, & RI -- with Washington State & the District of Columbia joining them in 2020. Find out more, including how to access the leave here: CA, NJ, NY, RI.
Nine states give access to unpaid leave for some employees -- CT, DC (until 2020), MA, ME, MN, OR, VM, WA (until 2020), & WI. Find out more here.
4. None of the above
If none of this applies to you, you’re not alone. Many new parents have used a vacation leave, medical leave and/or disability leave to get time with their new family members.
It shouldn't be this way. The US is the last industrialized country in the world without a paid family leave scheme -- and that's what we're working to change.
If you agree join us by adding your name below -- and let’s win this!