Maternity Leave Compliance and FMLA

Maternity leave policies have become a hot topic as more women are contributing a significant amount of a family’s monthly income. A recent study by the Pew Research Center found 40% of households now have women as the sole or primary source of income. As a result, companies need to be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to covering families for maternity and paternity leave.

Who is eligible?

Maternity leave is covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child or a placement of a child in an employee’s home through adoption or foster care. To qualify a person must:

  • Work for a private-sector company with at least 50 employees within 75 miles, a public agency, or a private or public school
  • Have worked for her or his employer for at least 12 months
  • Have worked at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 consecutive months

What is the policy?

Employers are required to grant eligible employees up to 12 workweeks of unpaid maternity leave within a 12 month period for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Birth of a child
  • Placement of a child for adoption or foster care

In cases where both spouses are employed by the same company, the 12 weeks may be a combined total for a single birth or adoption/foster placement. FMLA also requires employers maintaint benefits for the employee during the maternity leave period, as well as restore the individual to his or her job upon return.

To ensure your company is compliant, consider training your managers and HR team on FMLA and maternity leave policies through the several elearning courses OpenSesame has available. Additionally, review the guideslines provided by the U.S. Department of Labor on their website.

Above and Beyond

Recently companies, especially tech companies, have expanded their maternity and paternity leave policies to an effort to attract the best possible workers to their companies. 

  • Facebook offers 16 weeks of full paid parental leave and $4,000 of “baby cash” to help pay for food and childcare expenses. The policy also includes adoptive parents.
  • Google offers 18 to 22 weeks of full paid maternity leave and seven weeks of paid paternity leave. The company also gives $500 of “Baby Bonding Bucks” similar to the baby cash given by Facebook.
  • Reddit offers 16 weeks of full paid parental leave. Their policy is especially noteworthy considering that Reddit has fewer than 50 employees, meaning that it is not subject to FMLA.
  • Ernst & Young recently increased its paid maternity leave to up to 39 weeks. They also offer paid paternity leave, flexible work hours, and provisions for childcare vouchers for up to 12 months after maternity leave.

Does your company have a maternity and/or paternity leave policy? Share your experience!

Image credit: Footloosiety via Flickr