Have you found the job of your dreams? Are you worried that becoming a parent may hinder your career progress? You’re not alone. This is a concern most soon to become parents share, especially mums.
But although being a working parent is not easy, there’s no reason why it should be impossible. Spending some time getting familiar with your parental leave rights can help you come up with a plan to make the transition into parenthood as smooth as possible.
Let us help you understand how parental leave works in the US, whether you’re eligible, and how to apply to receive this benefit.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR RIGHTS
Unfortunately, the US maternity leave policy is not at the top of the list of rich countries. The federal government does not provide for a national statutory paid parental leave. This means that it’s up to each employer to offer this benefit.
Currently, only 8 states offer paid parental leave to those who qualify. Most employees can qualify for unpaid leave, though. This is enabled by The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). It applies to the public sphere and private companies with 50 or more employees. For those who qualify, FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected, parental leave. It ensures employees can keep their jobs and continue to receive health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if they haven’t taken leave.
To apply you must:
• Have worked for your employer for at least 12 months (consecutive or non-consecutive).
• Have worked for at least 1250 hours during the last 12 months.
If you are a soon-to-be parent who works in California, you can claim Paid Family Leave (PFL) to bond with your child. Biological fathers and adoptive parents can also apply for PFL. As a pregnant mom, you can receive up to 8 weeks of Disability Insurance (DI) benefits before your due date and after to recover from childbirth. How much time you’ll get depends on your situation. For a normal pregnancy, you could get 4 weeks of DI before your expected due date, six weeks for an uncomplicated delivery, or eight weeks if you had to undergo a Cesarean section. In that case, you will continue to receive DI benefits while you recover from childbirth.
To obtain PFL benefits you must prove:
• You have welcomed a child into the family in the past 12 months through birth, adoption, foster, or care placement
• You have paid into State Disability Insurance (noted as “CASDI” on paystubs) in the past 5 to 18 months
• You have not have taken the maximum of 8 weeks of PFL in the past 12 months
Payments are around 60% to 70% of your weekly wages earned 5 to 18 months before your claim start date. You can receive payments either by debit card or check. You can check how much you may get by using the official Disability Insurance and Paid Family Leave Calculator.
HOW TO APPLY
At the moment, you can choose to apply either:
• Online. You will need to register, log in, and follow the instructions to file your claim.
• By mail. You will need to print and complete a claim. It will take longer to process and may delay the moment you’ll receive your benefits.
You'll be asked to provide the following information:
• Most current employer’s business name, phone number, and mailing address (as stated on your W-2 or paystub)
• The expected date of the leave
• The duration of the leave
Note: You must complete and submit your claim form no earlier than the first day your family leave begins and no later than 41 days after it has already began. Failure to do so may result in the loss of your benefits.
If you work in the state of Rhode Island and your employer doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, you may be entitled to claim paid leave if:
• You have worked for an average of at least 30 hours a week
• You have been employed continuously for at least 12 months
There are two possible benefits you could apply for:
• The Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI): this benefit is available during the first 12 months of parenting only and can be obtained for a maximum of 4 paid weeks. You can choose to take another 8 weeks of unpaid FMLA. You can only start your leave after you have given birth or adopted your child.
• The Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI): if you have pregnancy-related complications, you can apply for TDI while you’re receiving TCI benefits. It can’t be received for longer than 30 weeks and you must provide medical evidence to support your claim. Your weekly benefit rate will be equal to 4.62% of the wages paid to you in the highest quarter of your Base Period. The maximum benefit rate is $978 and the minimum benefit rate is $107. This does not include dependency allowance.
HOW TO APPLY
You can apply online. You must apply for TCI benefits within the first 30 days of the birth or adoption. You must provide the following information:
• Your full name, address, and telephone number
• Your Social Security Number
• The date you were first unable to work
It takes around 48 hours after your application is processed and approved for you to get paid. You can choose to receive your money either by Direct Deposit or by using an Electronic Payment Card (EPC).
If you work in New Jersey, the state offers two programs:
• Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI): the physical limitation of pregnancy is considered as “a disability.” TDI provides between 10-12 weeks of paid time off work for you to care for yourself while being pregnant and after childbirth. You can take 4 weeks before the date of delivery and up to 8 weeks after the birth of the child. This period can be extended in case of pregnancy-related problems.
• Family Leave Insurance: it provides up to 12 weeks of cash benefits so you can stop working and bond with your new child. Some employers offer this benefit as part of private insurance. If you’re not sure about your coverage, ask your employer.
To qualify, you must:
• Have worked 20 weeks earning at least $220 weekly or a combined total of $11,000 in the base year (the first four quarters of the year)
• Have a doctor’s note certifying that you are unable to work due to your pregnancy (for TDI only)
HOW TO APPLY
You must start your application within 30 days from your first day of leave. You’ll be asked to provide:
• Your Social Security number, contact information, and date of birth
• The date your leave begins or you became unable to work
• Contact information for the medical provider who treated you within 10 days of the first day you were unable to work (only to apply for TDI
• Dates of any emergency/urgent care treatment or hospitalizations (only to apply for TDI)
• Dates you worked for any employers in the last 6 months, the employers’ contact information, and the address(es) where you worked
• Dates of any paid time off or other benefits you received after the last day you worked
• The date when you expect to recover and return to work or the date you recovered and returned to work (only to apply for TDI)
You can expect to receive 85% of your average wages, up to $903/week. They will be paid to a debit card you’ll receive by mail in a plain, unmarked envelope before your claim is approved. The funds will be applied to the card then. It can take 2-6 weeks to get your claim approved and start receiving benefits. Payments are usually issued every two weeks after the initial payment, with a one-week lag for processing time. For further information, we suggest you visit the official website.
In 2017, Washington State passed one of the most generous paid parental leave and paid sick leave laws for employees in the United States. Thanks to it, both parents are entitled to claim up to 12 paid weeks of parental leave. In the face of a complicated pregnancy, an additional two weeks of paid leave is available for the mother.
The state offers two types of paid leaves:
• Medical Leave: you can get up to 12 weeks a year. This will be decided by your doctor.
• Family Leave: you can get 12 weeks a year or take up to 16 weeks of combined medical and family leave to bond with your newborn. If you experience complications in pregnancy, you could get up to 18 weeks of combined medical and family leave. You will be required to present a medical certificate proving your condition.
To qualify, you will need to have worked at least 820 hours (about 16 hours a week) in the qualifying period (first four quarters of the year). You can receive up to 90% of your weekly pay, up to a maximum of 1206$ a week. You will get paid directly to your bank account or on a prepaid credit card which works like a gift card you can use anywhere.
Note: whereas parental paid leave is very generous, the job protection scheme is practically nonexistent. If you work in a company with less than 50 employees, you have worked in this company for less than a year, or you have worked less than 1250 hours in the year you took the leave, your employer is not legally required to keep your job for you.
HOW TO APPLY
• You must notify your employer at least 30 days before you plan to take leave.
• The application is doneonline. You’ll need to create a user and password on the Washington state webpage to file your weekly claims. There’ll be instructions for you to follow there.
We hope you have found this information useful. Know that you can also claim paid parental leave inNew York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, and the District of Columbia. It’s important to check what allowances and benefits are offered in the state you live in, as the length of time and the amount of money you can expect to receive vary significantly. You can follow the links for more information. We wish you the best of luck with your claims!
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