Pregnant mothers and new adoptive parents have a right to leave

One of the most exciting and magical moments of your life is when a child joins your family. Whether you are pregnant and expecting the birth of a child or in the final stages of adoption, you are probably worrying about work leave. After all, newborns and new additions to your family require a lot of support at first.

The good news is that for those who qualify, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides protection for the right to take leave when a new child arrives in your home. That means you will have time to bond with your new family member and adjust to the new addition to your family.

New parents can have up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave

The right to take time off of work, whether or not you receive salary or compensation during that time, is critical for the overall social and mental well-being of the average worker. Bonding time after birth or an adoption is a perfect example of this need.

New parents need time to learn how to interact with their new family member and emotionally bond with the baby or adopted child. If they are not able to take time off of work, that can harm the bond between parent and child and cause many issues in the future.

Thankfully, medical professionals recognize the importance of this bonding, which has influenced government policy about employment. You have the right under the FMLA to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year for specific situations, including adopting or having a baby.

Your employer may have a policy that allows for longer leave periods or compensation during leave. They may also help you work from home or offer a flexible schedule when you return to work. Without such a policy in place, however, you can still expect a full 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Once that leave is up, you should be allowed to return to your previous job at your previous rate of pay.

How to determine if you qualify for leave under the FMLA

Like any federal regulation, the FMLA has specific requirements that you must meet in order to qualify. You must work for at least 1250 hours in the 12 months prior to taking leave. You should work at a facility with at least 50 other employees or within 75 miles of a location with that many employees.

If you are still unclear about whether you qualify, contacting human resources or speaking with an employment law attorney can help clarify your position. So long as you do qualify, you have every right to take leave to welcome the new child into your family. Your employer should work with you to facilitate that leave.

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