Pregnant Women's Guide to Maternity Leave
As due dates rapidly approach and the excitement of pregnancy symptoms wear off, mamas quickly start thinking about maternity leave. I've been a Sr. benefits specialist for 5+ years. In addition to running Llama Momma, it's what I do from 9-5, and I've been walking moms through the leave process since I graduated college.
I understand how overwhelming it can be, so I do my best to teach each mama what they need to do and what they can expect when they go out. I've created this easy breakdown so you'll know what to expect and what questions to ask your employer.
Don't Start The Process Too EARLY!
I understand you want to get all your ducks in a row, but you don't need to start the leave process until you're in your third trimester.
I only recommend starting earlier if you're already experiencing complications and your doctor has already discussed the possibility of putting you on bed rest.
Talk to the right people.
Some people hear human resources and immediately think that's who they talk to you. They then get frustrated, hopping from place to place, hoping to speak to the right person.
Check to see if you have a leave department. Depending on your employer's size, managing leave is a huge undertaking. Usually, there is a separate department that handles it.
FMLA – Family Medical Leave Act
The most common myth people believe is that FMLA is about pay. It is not. FMLA is an unpaid leave that provides job protection for up to 12 weeks,
That means your employer is federally required to hold your employment spot as long as you return within those 12 weeks. Now there are some stipulations. You'll have a job with your employer if you return within the timeframe, but it may not be the exact position or location.
For example, if you were a math teacher on the district's north side, you may be a teacher on the south side when you return. Your employer has to provide you with a similar job in duties and pay when you return, not location.
Short Term Disability
Short Term disability insurance replaces a portion of your income when you are not working. You will receive STD payments if your doctor has you listed as disabled.
The traditional disability period for vaginal delivery is 6 weeks and for cesarean is 8 weeks. Usually, there is an unpaid waiting period before your disability payments begin. You'll want to use your PTO or sick time to cover that waiting period so you can still get a check.
Now there are some caveats to STD. You can't "double-dip." That means you can't get paid by your employer and the disability company at the same time. If you do, the STD company will audit, and you will have to pay them back.
Your employer will operate one of 2 ways. They will either make you use all of your PTO, Sick Time, etc., before STD payments can start, or they will let you choose if you want to use them at all or not. That depends on your employer, so be sure to ask them.
To file a short-term disability claim, you will reach out to your disability carrier directly to get the process started. They will reach out to your employer to confirm your salary; then, the disability company will calculate and inform you when payments begin.
You will have to submit medical documentation to the disability company to confirm your pregnancy and how long you will be out. A doctor's note stating your name, due date, and recovery period will be just fine.
Returning to Work
Returning to work is entirely up to you. Your doctor will have to medically clear you to return. You'll want to notify your employer at least two weeks in advance so they can inform management and prepare placement for your return.
If you have questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I'd be happy to help.