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Maternity Leave – What are My Rights?

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Many women aren't sure what their rights are, especially when it comes to maternity leave and related questions.  Knowing the rights and benefits you are entitled to as a woman, under employment laws, can sometimes make a difference to the kind of treatment you get from an employer.

Job Interviews

When you are at a job interview and your future employer asks you what are your plans regarding pregnancy and children, what should you answer?  First of all, it is illegal for a potential employer to ask you such a question.  This is a discriminatory question, applying only to a certain group of potential employees (those who carry the children…).  The law doesn't even oblige you to say you are pregnant when applying for a job, never mind discuss your personal plans for the future. 

The problem is that the law doesn't always coincide with reality (to say the least), and you might be denied a position because of refusing to answer a question your employer is not entitled to ask.  Employers can present non-discriminatory reasons for not hiring you, thereby avoiding the laws protecting women while pregnant.  Being aware of the rights you are entitled to, in advance, can help you identify discriminatory behavior and insist on what you are entitled to.

Mother Nursing Baby

Maternity leave

By the Family Medical Leave Act, you are entitled to 12 weeks of non-paid maternity leave if your employer has 50 or more permanent employees, and you have been working for him for at least 12 months.  You should give at least 30 days advance notice to your employer, if practicable. These are the basic rules applying to maternity leave rights, whether you are pregnant or expect to have a baby placed in your care by an adoption service.

Being pregnant should be defined, from your employer's point of view, as temporary disability. This means that your condition is no different than any other employee who is temporarily unable to work. Both disability income protection and medical expense insurance must cover maternity-related disabilities and maternity-related health care expenses on the same basis as for all other conditions.

Many of the benefits you are entitled to depend upon the healthcare coverage your employer provides, and the company's policy regarding disability. In any case, your pregnancy is no reason for discharge or disciplining.  The only criterion, which is relevant to your employer's decisions regarding your future employment, is the quality of your work.

It isn't easy to be a mom, even when it comes to society which should have an interest in supporting parenting of its working community.  Find out what your company's attitude is, so you can deal better with insuring your rights and know what to expect when you pop the announcement regarding your expected maternity leave.

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Comments (2)Add Comment
hello need information
written by jacky, August 07, 2007
So you leave from work, they don't pay you nothing in 12 weeks, not even your vacations and sick days and personal days?
what if i dont qualify for fmla
written by Rodriguez, December 03, 2007
I need some help and more information. I am 36 weeks and 1 day pregnant. I have been at my new job for only 2 weeks. So, on that much info you can tell my job knew that I was pregnant (very pregnant) when they hired me. I found out that I do not qualify for maternity leave. And even if I did I would not be able to afford to be off for 6 weeks. After I had my son, I got a job and started working a week and a hlaf after I had him. Since I do not qualify for fmla of maternity leave what are my options? I only plan to be off for a week, two at the most. And when I told them that they looked at me like (you cant do that) Can anyone help me?? I like my job, and there are oters like me at myjob, but my baby is due this month.. theirs is due next year.. so What can I do? Pelase get back to me on this.

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