Pregnancy Leave Laws: What Are Your Rights?

Maternity leave laws have been implemented in the United States in order to protect the rights of pregnant women before and after delivery. These laws became aids to the employers in complying with federal pregnancy discrimination law and state maternity leave laws.These laws are the most important maternity laws in the country.

Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Law

The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Law was passed and implemented in 1978. The purpose of the law is to protect pregnant women and others with “medical conditions” from being discriminated by their employers in the work place. This law applies only to companies or employers which have 15 or more employees.

Under this law, an employer is prohibited from doing the following acts:

  1. Firing an employee due to her pregnancy.
  2. Forcing a pregnant employee to take a pregnancy leave.
  3. Denying health, disability and sickness-leave privileges awarded to employees with “medical conditions” from pregnant employees.
  4. Not giving modified tasks, alternate assignments, disability leave or leave without pay to pregnant employees.
  5. Not to allow the pregnant employee from working if she is still able to perform her job.
  6. Not to give a guarantee on the employee’s job security after the leave.
  7. To impede the accrual of seniority and eligibility of pregnant women.

The condition on job security and company benefits will depend on the company policy. This means that if the company does not extend a particular benefit to other employees, then the same benefit could not be extended to pregnant employees as well.

Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act was passed into law in 1993. This law applies to all employers and companies with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius from the workplace. Under this law, women employees are afforded the right to take a 12 weeks unpaid and job protected leave in any 12 month period for the purpose of maternal delivery. This law shall only apply if the employee was employed for at least one year prior to the filing of the leave and that she must have been working for 25 hours per week. The 12 weeks leave may be applied at the same time or staggered over the course of the year before or after delivery. It is also required, under the law, that upon return to work, the employee must be reinstated to the same position that she held before taking the maternity leave.

A weak spot on this law gained public criticism. According to the provisions of this law, the same shall not apply to employees in the top 10 percent of the bracket.

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