How to Talk With Your Employer About Maternity Leave


The issue of maternity leave can be an uncomfortable subject for a pregnant woman to bring up with her employer. Thankfully, the issue of being pregnant should not affect your ability to maintain employment and termination of employment based on a new pregnancy is not legal. Here are some ways to approach thinking about this topic in relation to your job. 

What type of job do you have?

This is an important question to consider when thinking about talking with your employer about your pregnancy.

Do you work in an environment that requires heavy lifting or repetitive hard labor? Are you required to be on your feet all day? Are you exposed to chemicals that could cause undue risk in your pregnancy? These things can all help to determine the timing of when to tell your employer about your pregnancy. If you work in an environment that may cause some risk to your pregnancy, you should consider informing your employer earlier rather than later to ensure adjustments can be made to your job to prevent exposure. 

How long do you want to work for?

This is something to think about in the early stages of pregnancy. Some women are able to work until the day they go into labor while others prefer to stop working within weeks of their due date. This is sometimes a personal decision and other times a decision based on medical necessity. Either way, you should think about what your personal preference might be and plan for what might happen if you are forced to discontinue working due to medical issues prior to your due date.

Some complications of pregnancy such as preterm labor and preeclampsia are examples of diagnoses that may require cessation of work before your due date. 

Additionally, the type of work you do may need to be adjusted to help you stay in the workplace while pregnant. If you typically work on your feet all day or work in a very physical and labor intensive job, it may be possible to decrease the amount of heavy work you do with a job adjustment to allow you to continue to be productive but keep your pregnancy safe.


How do you plan for maternity leave?

There are many issues to consider while planning out your maternity leave. First, query your human resources department to find out about short term disability options through your employer and what necessary paperwork there may be to ensure that you keep your job and insurance coverage throughout the duration of your leave. Typically, employers will ask that your doctor fill our a Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) form to vouch that you're really pregnant and what the expected duration of your necessary leave will be. A typical short term disability plan will cover six weeks of maternity leave for an employee with longer durations approved in the case of medical necessity. There is no guarantee that your employer will provide any payment during this period of disability and employers are not required to pay during this time in the United States. For women that want to take longer maternity leave for a longer duration, they may have to use vacation, sick leave, and other time granted by the employer.

This is all employer dependent so sitting down for a discussion with your human resources department may be very beneficial for you to understand the benefits that are available to you. 

Overall, planning your maternity leave with your employer should not be an incredibly stressful process as long as you're up front about your desires. Take some time to think about what you want your leave to look like before you bring it up. 

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