Friday, December 20, 2013

The Facts About Maternity Leave Laws and Policies

Motherhood is the most beautiful phase of a woman's life. The greatest joy on earth for a woman is perhaps holding a little bundle of joy in her hands. However, working women may face problems when it comes to juggling motherhood and work.

Every country has laws to cater to pregnant women. It is important to be aware about maternity leave laws and policies so that you can continue working. Maternity leave is the period of leave which a pregnant woman takes just before and after the birth of a child.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed by the US Department of Labor's Employment Standards Administration in 1993, employees can avail benefits like sick leave, maternity leave and/or vacation leave. All organizations have to comply with rules of the FMLA.

According to the Maternity Leave Act, a pregnant woman can take twelve weeks, or three months of maternity leave, without pay. To be eligible for this leave, the woman employee should have worked for a minimum period of 12 months for an organization. Though this is the general rule in majority of the states, the number of days may differ from one state to the other.

Employers are not supposed to discriminate against a woman who is pregnant. However, there have been instances where women have been fired or refused promotion all because of their condition. Such kind of unfair discrimination can put the employers in legal trouble.

However, in order to avail the maternity leave, the woman has to request for it in writing at least 30 days before proceeding on leave. Usually it is advisable for a pregnant woman to discuss the leave with her immediate supervisor once she enters her second trimester. This leave is unpaid and the woman's job is protected during this period. In addition, the employer has to continue the woman's group health insurance. In some states based on the state law, companies may take pregnancy as a short-term disability. This paves way for the woman to receive a small percentage of her salary.

Pregnancy discrimination still prevails. However, many companies have introduced flexible leave policies and working conditions for women who are expecting.

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