Questions to ask HR regarding your Maternity Leave
The time that you get to spend with your baby during maternity leave is unlike anything else. There is something so wonderful about uninterrupted time with your child. However, there are alot of technicalities and legal forms you may need to complete before you can spend that precious time away. It’s important that you talk through the maternity leave policies and procedures with your employer, and the sooner, the better!
In the case that you only receive minimal paid-time-off and want to take extra unpaid time off, you will need time to save up! We have a great post on maternity leave financial planning here. It includes ways you can save money in those 9 months as well as extra ways to bring in money!
One last thing before we jump into the questions. I want to make you familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA was put into place in 1993 as a way to ensure mothers (and fathers) who had recently given birth or adopted to be able to spend time away with their new child without running the risk of losing their job. According to the Department of Labor Website: The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to 12 workweeks of leave in a 12 month period from the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth. I would encourage you to read through the FAQ’s on the Department of Labors website to better inform yourself of your rights under this act.
So what does this mean for you? In the case that your talk with HR leads you to find that their policies might not allow for as much time as you thought, you might be able to get more time with FMLA.
- What is the maximum time of paid leave I can receive? Do I receive 100% of my pay during that time? What about my FMLA time off?
- What is the maximum amount of unpaid leave I can take? Am I allowed to take that immediately following my paid time off?
- Can I use my paid sick time and/or vacation time immediately following my paid time off?
- What happens with my benefits while I am on leave? Will they continued to be paid as normal? If not, what percentage will I need to pay?
- Are there any options for a gradual return to work when my leave is nearing its completion?
- Will contributions to my retirement, flex spending accounts, etc. continue while I am on leave? Will I continue to accrue sick days while I am on leave?
- What are the company policies on short-term disability? What happens if I need extended time off due to medical reasons?
- In the case that I need to take time off before the baby arrives for medical reasons (high risk, bed rest), how will this be handled? Will it take away from my maternity leave time?
- What are the physical forms I need to fill out? Is there a deadline?
- What is the process of adding my child to our medical coverage once he/she is born (this question is also on our list for what to ask your health insurance as soon as you find out you are pregnant. You’ll want to confirm this information with both parties!
- I plan to breastfeed after baby is born, what space and/or accommodation will be made so I have a place to pump after returning to work? (To prepare for pumping at work, I highly suggest taking the Milkology class dedicated to pumping. It talks about your rights as a BF mother in the workplace and how you can successfully express enough milk for your little one after you return to work. You can see the details on the online class here)