Taking Maternity Leave: How to Prepare

Preparing to leave work for a one-week vacation may seem daunting enough, but how about preparing for maternity leave? Feeling confident that you’ve gotten colleagues ready for your absence and that you’ve asked all the important questions is difficult. But, there are ways to make the transition easier on both you and your employer.

Don’t wait to tell your boss

Preparing for maternity leave

You may be unsure when is the best time to notify your boss that you are pregnant. Janine N. Truitt, a Senior Human Resources Representative from New York, recommends letting your boss know you are expecting as soon as it is officially confirmed by the physician. Truitt says, “It is advantageous to do it once officially confirmed, so that your boss is aware of it as soon as possible.” Don’t surprise your boss with just a few months left before your leave. Give your supervisor ample time to prepare. This shows you value the work being done and care about the company.

Learn your company’s policies

One of the most important things you can do is learn what policies are in place at your company regarding maternity leave. Some companies have a handbook or manual that includes specific policies regarding maternity leave. Truitt says, “If your company does not have a formal maternity leave program- you should speak to someone in benefits about the usage and accrual of (vacation, PTO, sick time, FMLA, etc.) toward your maternity leave.”

Know the law

If you are worried about losing your job while on leave, Truitt recommends asking for clarification about your company’s policies. Additionally, “… if the employer has 15 or more employees, they are bound by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and must keep the job open for pregnancy-related absences for the same length of time they would for sick or disability leave.” Truitt also notes that The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects women from being treated unfairly “based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions.” She says women can file an EEO claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in their state if they feel they have been treated unfairly.

Even if a company does not have a formal maternity leave policy, you may be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA guarantees women up to 12 weeks off for the birth of a child; however, there are certain stipulations in place. For instance, the woman must have worked for the employer for at least one year, with an accrued work time of 1,250 hours over the last 12 months. The employer must also have at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Make the transition easy

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