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Pregnancy and Your Career

Pregnancy and Your Career: Taking Maternity Leave

Federal law protects women so that they can take up to 12 weeks of maternity leave without losing their position in the company, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This law does not require companies to continue paying your salary during this time, but some companies offer the benefit of paid maternity leave. Read your company’s maternity leave plan, or ask your human resources department for details. Sometimes you will not be eligible for paid leave, but may still qualify for other company benefits. Ask whether FMLA time runs concurrently with the company’s maternity leave and check your state’s policy as well.

  • Tell your boss as soon as possible. Seek the advice of your doctor as to when you should announce your pregnancy. Depending on your medical situation, it may be wise to wait until after the first trimester of the pregnancy. Tell your boss before you confide in other coworkers, so she doesn’t hear it through other sources. Communicate that you are dedicated to your position and plan to work until due date barring unforeseen circumstances.
  • Review your finances. If you receive paid maternity leave, by all means use as much of that leave s you need or want. If you will not receive as much paid leave as you want to take, consider using paid vacation time or other personal leave. You could also think about working part time for a period or working from home to secure an income while you spend time with your baby. Learn about work from home opportunities HERE.
  • Do not undervalue the importance of paid maternity leave as a benefit. Maternity leave can affect your retirement benefits. Some companies will require you to work a certain number of hours in a year, for several years, before you qualify for pension benefits. For example, a company may require you to work for one thousand hours a year for five years before you qualify for its pension program. Maternity leave can keep you from completing the one thousand hours, pushing your pension benefits back a year. If you’re unsure of how your company calculates this time, ask your human resource representative.