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All About Maternity Leave in the United States

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Written by Jody Morse in Pregnancy
Viewed by 13 readers since 07-05-2009

Maternity leave in the United States is often criticized by both citizens and other countries. Although there are many ways in which the United States is praised for the way that it benefits workers, maternity leave is known to be one of the ways in which it lacks. In fact, many people consider the United States to be one of the worst countries in the world to handle maternity leave. Here are some of the things that any pregnant woman may be wondering about maternity leave.

What Exactly is Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave is when a new parent takes off time from work in order to spend it with the baby. While a maternity leave generally applies to women, there are also many fathers who make the decision to take off from work as well. This is perfectly legal and, by some companies, it is even encouraged. A maternity leave can happen when the woman gives birth to a baby herself, or it may occur in the event of an adoption or surrogacy.

Is Maternity Leave in the United States Paid?

Generally, companies in the United States do not offer their workers a paid maternity leave. There are other countries which require businesses to provide this to their employees. However, there is no law in the United States which requires paid maternity leaves. That said, there are some companies which do offer their employees a paid maternity leave. If it is offered, the company is providing it out of their own free will. The amount of time that you will be paid for a maternity leave may vary from three to six weeks, depending on the specific company. Anyone who is offered any money for a maternity leave in the United States should consider themselves lucky since this is not the norm.

Will You Lose Your Job Over Maternity Leave?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does require many companies and unions to provide their workers with a maternity leave. It is important to keep in mind that this does not apply to all companies, however. It is likely that information about your maternity leave will be outlined before you make the decision to go on it. Most companies offer between six to twelve weeks. Keep in mind that if you have personal days, sick days, or vacation days, a maternity leave may be a good time to use them if you need to. Also be sure to keep in mind that short term disability may be another option if these alternatives are not available to you.

Once your employer knows that you are pregnant, it may be time for you to begin discussing the guidelines that you will need to follow for the maternity leave. This will help ensure that you know exactly what to expect during this time. Since many mothers want to spend a lot of time with their babies immediately after giving birth, a maternity leave is not something that you will want to be shorted out on.

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