Edit ModuleShow Tags

What to Ask About Maternity Leave


Published:

Just found out you are expecting a baby? Now is the time to learn about your company's maternity and paternity leave benefits and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here are five key questions to get the conversation started with your company's human-resources professional.

1. Does your company have a maternity and paternity leave policy?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (see sidebar). In addition, some employers provide leave benefits to their employees over and above the minimum required by the FMLA, says Angela Cummings, an attorney in the Charlotte office of Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm.

In addition, many employers not covered by FMLA voluntarily provide maternity and/or paternity leave benefits to their workers. For example, Triangle Community Foundation in Durham has 17 employees, so it is exempt from FMLA. However, the organization pays a new mother's full salary for her paid leave. An unpaid six-week leave is first, but it is usually covered by short-term disability, which pays two-thirds of the employee's salary. The monthly premiums for short-term disability are paid by the Triangle Community Foundation, one of Carolina Parenting's Family-Friendly 50 honorees for 2010. All benefits continue while the employee is on leave.
Expectant parents should contact their company's human-resources representative for information about any maternity/paternity leave policies as well as FMLA.

2. Does your company offer short-term disability coverage for maternity leave?

Many companies offer short-term disability for employees to use for maternity leave. Using short-term disability, the employee can be paid all or a percentage of her salary while on leave.

Lori Mayette, the director of human resources for Raleigh-based Luihn Food Systems, says salaried employees with the company can take short-term disability and be paid a portion of their salary. This runs concurrently with FMLA leave. Luihn employs about 300 salaried employees and a total of 2,200 employees in three states. The time period for short-term disability can vary, but generally is six weeks for a typical delivery and eight weeks for a cesarean delivery.

Some larger companies pay an employee all of her salary while on short-term disability, while smaller companies often pay a percentage of the salary. The timing for when short-term disability coverage begins depends on the employer's policy. Many policies have a seven-day waiting period before starting. During this waiting period, the employee can often use accrued paid time off such as vacation time or can take unpaid leave. Employees also can buy private short-term disability policies.

3. If you want more paid time off than what short-term disability provides, can you use accrued vacation time and sick leave?

Whether an employee may, or even must, use vacation or sick time while on leave depends on the individual company's policy. Some companies allow employees to use their paid time off after the short-term disability leave period ends, says Alison Nolan, the site human-resources manager with BASF Corp. in High Point. For example, an employee could use short-term disability for six weeks and then take additional paid time off by using vacation time and sick leave. In addition to short-term disability of six to eight weeks for new mothers, Hewitt Associates in Charlotte, a 2010 Family-Friendly 50 company, offers one additional week of paid time off within the 12 weeks of the FMLA. Extended personal leave of absence also can be requested if an employee is eligible.

4. Do companies typically offer paternity benefits?

Similar to maternity leave policies, paternity leave options, beyond what the FMLA mandates, vary by company. At UNC-Chapel Hill, the faculty-leave policy allows faculty, both men and women, 15 weeks or one semester off within a year of a birth or adoption, says Melanie Joyner, the director of academic personnel at UNC. The popular leave policy was adopted in 1997 to increase faculty recruitment and retention. Most other public university campuses across the state have similar leave policies for fathers and mothers. Hewitt Associates in Charlotte offers new fathers and adoptive parents one week of paid time off within the first year after the birth or adoption of their child, outside of one week of paid parental time. Fathers also have access to extended leave beyond FMLA if they are eligible.

5. Does your company offer any other benefits that may ease the transition from maternity leave to a return to full-time employment?

Other than what is required by the FMLA, companies operating in North Carolina do not have to provide maternity-related benefits. According to Cummings, though, many companies have voluntarily adopted policies that allow an employee to take an extended unpaid leave, allow an employee to telecommute for a period after a leave, or even allow an employee to return to work on a part-time basis after maternity leave has been exhausted. In addition, a growing trend among larger companies is to provide onsite child care for employees and/or employee discounts at national day-care providers. Employees should review company policies and contact their human-resources department to find out more information on what policies and benefits are available to them after the birth or adoption of a child.

Jane Paige is a Triangle-based freelance writer.

FMLA Explained

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows eligible employees of covered employers to take off up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in any 12-month period to care for the employee's child after birth, or for placement for adoption or foster care. It also can be used, among other things, to care for the employee's, or a close family member's, serious health condition.

An employee is only entitled to 12 weeks of leave per year under FMLA. Time taken off work because of pregnancy complications before a birth counts toward, and can lessen, the number of weeks of leave an employee may take after the birth.

An eligible employee is one who has worked for a covered employer for at least one year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. The 12 months do not have to be consecutive. Also, to be eligible, the company must employ 50 or more people within 75 miles of the worksite. Government employees are eligible for FMLA leave.

FMLA also requires that the employee's group health benefits be maintained during the leave. Upon return from FMLA leave, most employees must be restored to their original job or to an equivalent position.

"Some states have additional leave laws that provide greater coverage than the federal FMLA. However, North Carolina does not have any state law equivalent of the FMLA," says Angela Cummings, an attorney in the Charlotte office of Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm. "North Carolina employers and employees should become familiar with their rights and responsibilities under the federal law."

— Jane Paige

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

Where to Pick Strawberries in the Triangle

Find a farm close to home where you can pick your own strawberries.

10 Hikes Kids Enjoy in the Triangle

Ready to spend some time outdoors with your family? You're bound to have fun at any of these kid-friendly hiking spots around the Triangle.

Valentine Treats: Raspberry Cream Cheese Heart Tart, Pancakes and More

Put a Valentine's spin on Pop Tarts with these Raspberry Cream Cheese Heart Tarts.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2016

Bread & Puppet Theater hosts a free Circus Workshop. Run away with the circus for a few hours as Bread and Puppet Theater will work with participants to make a variety of circus acts featuring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G E. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Designed to Unite, with a theme of “All is One”, this festival helps support community, businesses, healers and artists. Enjoy workshops, holistic and intuitive healing experts, craft...

Cost: $5/person per day. Free for ages 11 and younger

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Holshouser Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-247-3002
Contact Name: Dulce Levitz
Website »

More information

Designed to Unite, with a theme of “All is One”, this festival helps support community, businesses, healers and artists. Enjoy workshops, holistic and intuitive healing experts, craft...

Cost: $5/person per day. Free for ages 11 and younger

Where:
N.C. State Fairgrounds, Holshouser Building
1025 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-247-3002
Contact Name: Dulce Levitz
Website »

More information

The 6th Annual Pub Head-Shaving event and Balder Dash 5K involves more than 100 volunteers who will run and shave their heads in solidarity with kids with cancer and raise money for lifesaving...

Cost: See website

Where:
West 94th St Pub
4711 Hope Valley Rd. Ste. 6C
Durham, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Take steps against lupus at the 8th Annual Walk to End Lupus Now: Raleigh. Funds raised support national research and local support services to help the estimated 5,200 people in the Triangle area...

Cost: Each walker is encouraged to raise or donate $100 or more

Where:
North Carolina State University – Centennial Campu
851 Main Campus Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: Lupus Foundations of America, NC Chapter
Telephone: 877-849-8271
Contact Name: LFANC
Website »

More information

The Spring Market invites art lovers for a weekend full of art and sunshine including: dazzling examples of local artistic talent, ongoing live music, world-class restaurants, great shopping, food...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Durham
120 Morris St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate the unique qualities that make Carrboro special. Enjoy stories and photos, poetry readings, music and dancing, interactive field games, crafts, family activities and more.  

Cost: Free

Where:
Carrboro Town Commons
301 W. Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

The 11th Annual Run Baby Run 5K & 10K Races and Walk for Life raises funds for the Hand of Hope Pregnancy Centers to provide free, confidential services to those experiencing unplanned...

Cost: $30

Where:
WakeMed Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Dr.
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: A Hand of Hope Pregnancy Centers
Telephone: 919-210-2278
Contact Name: Carey Koenig
Website »

More information

Shakespeare’s "Macbeth" is one of the Shakespeare’s best-known dramatic plays. This new ballet about the lust for power gone awry is choreographed to an original score by J....

Cost: $30-$68

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Parent and child get creative by making ceramic artwork together. Ages 2-14. Registration required.

Cost: $15-$18

Where:
Durham Arts Council Clay Studio
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn how baseball began, and hear about some of North Carolina’s legendary players. Then play a short game of rounders, a colonial version of baseball. Ages 3-5 with adult. Register online.

Cost: $1/member, $3/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-807-7979
Website »

More information

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Cary
100 Endeavor Way
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-677-7114
Contact Name: Cynthia De Amat
Website »

More information

Parent and child get creative by making ceramic artwork together. Ages 2-14. Registration required.

Cost: $15-$18

Where:
Durham Arts Council Clay Studio
Northgate Mall
1058 W. Club Blvd.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take time out to spend with your little one as you crawl, explore and bounce in a safe environment exclusively for children ages 12 mos-3 yrs. Parents play free; admission is $5 per child....

Cost: $5/child

Where:
BounceU of Apex
3419 Apex Peakway
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Raleigh
8000 Glenwood Ave
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-881-1160
Contact Name: Carol Marin
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Local crafts, delicious food, children's activities, storytelling, healing arts practitioners, dancing and music workshops, environmental sustainability forums, overnight camping and more...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Shakori Hills
1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Parent and child join others on an easy-paced hike around the park to explore what's happening in nature. Registration encouraged. Course #188990

Cost: Free

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy songs, stories and fun in Spanish. Infants-preschoolers.

Cost: Free

Where:
Spanish for fun! Wake Forest
222 Capcom Ave
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Spanish for fun!
Telephone: 919-883-2061
Contact Name: Karina Martinez
Website »

More information

Explore the sky for lightning bugs, the amazing lights of summer. A game and craft complete the fun. Ages 3 and older. Register online.

Cost: $4/child, $2/adult

Where:
Laurel Hills Park
3808 Edwards Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Local crafts, delicious food, children's activities, storytelling, healing arts practitioners, dancing and music workshops, environmental sustainability forums, overnight camping and more...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Shakori Hills
1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy an energetic, musical storytime with Amy Godfrey, who was a Durham County librarian for six years. Babka and challah will be served as...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

For children and youth with disabilities, their families, friends and care providers. Take your  bike or use one at the clinic. Volunteers will be on hand to help riders practice and help...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Fire Training Grounds at Station #4
103 Weaver Dairy Rd Extension
Chapel Hill, NC
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Parks & Recreation
Telephone: 919 968-2813
Contact Name: Marian Kaslovsky
Website »

More information

Don’t miss the 7th annual Herbfest featuring plant and craft booths, live butterfly releases, craft demos, kids activity, food trucks, bake sale and a silent auction. Tour an herb garden and...

Cost: Free. Food and drink available for purchase

Where:
The Page-Walker Arts & History Center
119 Ambassador Loop
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Sponsor: The Friends of Page-Walker and The Town of Cary
Telephone: 919-460-4963
Website »

More information

Take part in a family-friendly, educational 5K walk/run to bring awareness to the disease that took the life of local Cary man, Jerry Minore. His family and friends have partnered with...

Cost: $30/person

Where:
WakeMed Soccer Park
201 Soccer Park Dr.
Cary , NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: bioMerieux & Sepsis Alliance
Website »

More information

Enjoy arts, crafts. food, music, kids entertainment and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Apex
Apex, NC  27502


Website »

More information

Local crafts, delicious food, children's activities, storytelling, healing arts practitioners, dancing and music workshops, environmental sustainability forums, overnight camping and more...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Shakori Hills
1439 Henderson Tanyard Rd.
Pittsboro, NC  27312
View map »


Website »

More information

The Ham & Yam Festival offers craft and food vendors, country ham and sweet potatoes, and local bands and dance groups performing on three stages. Also enjoy a barbecue cook-off, a rubber duck...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Smithfield
, NC  27577


Website »

More information

The Town of Apex's signature event has brought families together for a day of fun, food and fellowship. Enjoy live music all day, artists of every kind, kids' entertainment, festival food...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Apex
Salem St.
, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy all things strawberry at this annual festival. Proceeds benefit Central Park School for Children. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/cpscstrawberryfestival.

Cost: Free

Where:
Old North Durham Park
310 W. Geer St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

This event features Heidi St. John as keynote speaker, as well as multiple workshops and vendor booths to aid homeschool parents and children.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilson's Mills Baptist Church
652 Swift Creek Rd.
Smithfield, NC  27577
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy all-day fun at the preserve featuring a critter stop, bird watching, crafts, nature scavenger hunt, dip netting, canoeing and fishing. Registration encouraged. Course #183771.

Cost: Free

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a fundraiser for the school featuring a dunking booth, bounce house, an inflatable obstacle course, photo booth, face painting, hair bling, homemade Mexican food, cotton candy and more.

Cost: Fees vary

Where:
Carrboro Elementary School
400 Shelton St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Sponsor: Carrboro Elementary PTA
Telephone: 919-968-3652
Contact Name: Cindy Sellars
Website »

More information

Meet in the Street offers a day filled with food, fun and entertainment, including live music and children’s activities. Enjoy dozens of artisans' booths featuring handcrafted arts and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Wake Forest
, NC  27587


Website »

More information

Innovate Your Cool (IYC) celebrates the power of cool ideas and its impact on business and music. This year’s program packs inspiration, ideas, innovation and fun into one exciting day....

Cost: Free

Where:
American Underground @ Main
201 W Main Street
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Sponsor: Art of Cool Project
Telephone: 919-672-0060
Contact Name: Michael English
Website »

More information

CarolinaKinder hosts a monthly storytime in German for kids. Read a book and play a game or make a craft. All ages.

Cost: Free of charge

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4381-105 Lassiter at North Hills Ave
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: CarolinaKinder
Contact Name: Stephanie Vogel
Website »

More information

Enjoy nature stories in English and Spanish. This month we are proud to be hosting the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences. Hear stories and meet animals. No registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Walnut Creek Wetland Center
950 Peterson Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-2761
Contact Name: Stacie Hagwood
Website »

More information

Meet at camp to pick up a local food lunch and hop on a hayride to picnic amidst the flowers and trees. Enjoy crafts, games, bouquet-picking for Mom, as well as the gardens and animals to visit....

Cost: $10/person

Where:
4300 Camp Chestnut Ridge Road
2902 Mt. Willing Road
Efland, NC  27243
View map »


Sponsor: Chestnut Ridge Camp & Retreat Center
Telephone: 919-304-2178
Contact Name: Erica Romkema
Website »

More information

All ages enjoy imaginative play in a natural setting.

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Celebrate spring at Lynn Road Elementary's spring carnival. The event featurs inflatables, games, climbing wall, photo booth, vendors, food trucks, a basket raffle and more.

Cost: $10/child. Free for adults

Where:
Lynn Road Elementary School
1601 Lynn Road
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Sponsor: Lynn Road PTA
Contact Name: Desaray Owen
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triangle by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Exceptional Child

Children with special needs face unique challenges. Find resources from A-Z in areas of advocacy, education, camps and therapies to support them as they grow.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

Triangle parents are busy and on the go. Browse our GPS guide to explore 1,155 family-friendly resources located across the region.

Education Guide

The 2015-16 Education Guide offers 539 education resources in the Triangle, including local preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.