Maternity leave is the right for a mother to take a leave of absence from her job when she becomes pregnant or decides to adopt a child.  In most cases in the United States, individuals are not paid during this time off.  However, there are some exceptions.  Some companies have been known to pay their employee for up to six weeks during this time.  In the early 1990’s, the Family and Medical Leave Act was established to protect pregnant workers from losing their job.  This act granted pregnant workers up to 12 weeks of absence from work, without running the risk of being fired.  This does not filter down to every single business in the United States, typically only larger corporations will adhere to this, as they are more likely to be in the news for not following these guidelines.


Legal Protections

The protection a mother can expect to receive for Maternity Leave differs by industry and also from state to state.  If you are in a job that requires your constant attention and leaving for any duration of time will affect your ability to pick up where you left off, then maternity leave might not be an option for you.  It depends on your employer and what they are willing to negotiate.  Maybe sick time, or vacation time will need to be incorporated into your absence.  Not always it is a matter of paying the employee while they are not working or producing for the company, but it can be a complicated situation to try to pick up where you left off four months down the road.  Companies know this and also know there is a likelihood that the mother may not wish to return to work at all.

Expectant mothers will be protected by short-term disability laws that will grant them around six weeks of absence.  Many mothers will try and return to work after these six weeks.  If they are not able, then this is when vacation and sick time may need to be negotiated.  In some cases, you can also be granted unpaid leave once your disability runs out, California has provisions for this type of absence.  While you will not be getting paid, your employer will be required to hold your job for you until you can return.


Hours and Pay on Maternity Leave

You can expect to receive unpaid leave if you work for the government, at the federal, state, and local level and also, if you have worked for your employer for over a twelve-month period, and an average of 25 hours per week in the previous year.  Some exceptions to this rule are if you are paid in the top 10% of wage earners at your company, or if by chance you and your partner work for the same company.  In the latter case, the time would be divided between the two of you.

There are also some options that one has in deciding how and when to take advantage of the maternity time off.  It can be taken all at once or in chunks of time within the first year after your child is born.  This would need to be negotiated with your employer.  However, it is not unusual to divide the time down to a weekly basis of cutting your hours.  Maybe it would make more sense to work shorter days over time than to take all of the time off at once.

When you take maternity leave, your employer is required to keep you on their insurance plan if they offer one.  Depending on how generous your company’s benefits package is, they may cover your premium on your health care costs.  If you decide not to return to work after taking a leave of absence, you will be forced to pay back any compensation towards you.  Some people will try to take advantage of companies, so businesses alike have laws to protect them from being taken advantage of.


Safety of Pregnant Workers

When an employee becomes pregnant, there are special safety protocols that need to be followed to ensure their safety and the safety of their child.  One of the most important safety hazards for pregnant women is exposure to radiation.  Any facility that has medical equipment or equipment that can expose a person to radiation must undergo extensive testing and monitoring of that equipment.  The levels of radiation and the frequency at which people are exposed to those amounts must be recorded.  Pregnant workers can still operate radiographic equipment as long as they follow a few safety procedures.  This includes: wearing lead protective aprons, using a thyroid protector, using latex gloves, and keeping their body parts out of the beam of the equipment.

Much like environments that have radiation, hazardous chemicals can be very dangerous for pregnant employees.  It is important for them to wear the proper safety equipment such as latex gloves, eye protection, and covers over their clothing to prevent chemicals coming in contact with their body.  Employees should always wash their hands after handling any equipment of any kind to prevent the spread of germs and potentially hazardous chemicals.

If your job required you to lift moderately heavy equipment, those duties should be re-assigned to another employee.  For pregnant workers that are close to labor, lifting can be very difficult and should be avoided at all costs.  Bending over to pick things up, lifting items above your head, and pushing heavy objects should all be tasks re-assigned to someone else.  This is the best practice when dealing with heavy equipment.  Following the preceding safety procedures will enable pregnant workers to maintain their job responsibilities and carry them out in a safe manner.

You may want to employ the services of eCompliance Management Solutions, Inc. if you’d like to make sure all your workers are taken care of and augment your company’s existing safety practices.


Arnel Ariate is the webmaster of Money Soldiers.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 3 comments
Nick | Millionaires Giving Money - August 11, 2014

Excellent post. I agree that keeping pregnant workers in a safe environment should be a priority for any business. My partner had an excellent experience with her place of work where an office assessment was done to make her movements more comfortably. Great post, thanks for sharing.

Charlie Air - August 12, 2014

Pregnant worker is also protected by regulation inside my workplace. However, mother is only allowed to take rest one month before birth and 3 months after the birth.
However, there is no workload decrease for pregnant worker. I think it should be available since pregnant worker condition is very very different. She is weak enough to do normal workload. So, workload decrease is needed.

Thomas @ i need money ASAP! - November 22, 2014

My wife and I had our first child six months ago now. She’s taken a year off work. Her company is very progressive. The financial support is minimal but its nice to have that time to bond. I couldn’t imagine how difficult it would be if she had to go back to work at his point. Our days would be way more hectic!


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