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

Consignment Sales and Stores in the Triangle

To help parents save some money on children's clothes and accessories, we have compiled a list of consignment sales and shops in the Triangle area. Find a sale or store in your county and get shopping!

Triangle Summer Movie Deals for Families

Enjoy free or discounted films this summer that both you and your kids can have fun watching.

Triangle Offers Low-Cost or Free Outdoor Summer Concert Series

Keep the kids entertained this summer with free or low-cost live outdoor concerts throughout the Triangle area.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

September 2016

Enjoy a fun-filled day, all while helping collect food and money to support local rescues. Last year’s Pet Extravaganza raised over 10,000 lbs of dog and cat food, and more than 20 dogs and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Joyner Park in Wake Forest
701 Harris Rd
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Dirty Dogs Spa
Telephone: 919-453-0765
Contact Name: Vanessa Davis
Website »

More information

Celebrate southern creativity and create art inspired by Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. Watch a local artist at work in the Great Hall and hear music performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate southern creativity and create art inspired by Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. Watch a local artist at work in the Great Hall. Don’t miss incredible...

Cost: Free

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
Telephone: 919-475-3425
Contact Name: Wendy Hower
Website »

More information

Prospective parents explore TISC schools, speak with TISC school representatives and gain information about which independent school might be the right fit for their family.

Cost: Free

Where:
Hampton Inn
3920 Arrow Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27612
View map »


Website »

More information

Rodeos, a mule-pulling contest, arts and crafts, vendors, carnival rides, street performers, bluegrass shows and more are all part of Benson Mule Days.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Benson
500 S. Market St.
Benson, NC  27504
View map »


Website »

More information

Engineer a super slick slide with special engineering guests from The Engineering Place, NCSU College of Engineering's K-20 Outreach Program.

Cost: $5/person. Free for ages 1 and younger, and museum members

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate Raleigh's newest creative play space with face painting and balloon art, food and art projects for purchase, community vendors and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
SnickerDoodles
3721 Lynn Rd., #112
Raleigh, NC  27613
View map »


Website »

More information

Participants develop their naturalist skills and understanding of local nature. Ages 5-8 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a nature objects show-and-tell with turtle shells, antlers, feathers and fossils for little ones to touch and hold, followed by a gentle 1.5-mile  hike along the creek through the shaded...

Cost: Free

Where:
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
6001 Turkey Farm Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Land Conservancy and Hike it Baby
Telephone: 919-908-0054
Contact Name: Barbara Goldentyer
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy overnight camping event in West Point on the Eno Park, whether you're a first-timer or an old hand, for traditional camping activities such as storytelling, s’mores, night hikes,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
West Point on the Eno Park
5101 N. Roxboro St.
Durham, NC  27704
View map »


Sponsor: Durham Parks and Recreation
Telephone: 919-560-4405
Contact Name: Kim Oberle
Website »

More information

Learn about beavers and hike to the Beaver Creek bridge to look for evidence of them in celebration of Take a Child Outside Week. All ages. Meet at the New Hill Parking Area. Ages 6 and older....

Cost: Free

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy a story around the campfire and roast marshmallows. Ages 6 and older. Registration required online by Sept. 21.  Adults must register and accompany children. Choose course #194776.

Cost: $2/person

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


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Take the family for live music, crafts and food. See website for hours.

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

Celebrate the motorcycle lifestyle with family-friendly activities ranging from stunt shows and specialty rides to live music and local vendors. See website for hours.

Cost: Free

Where:
Raleigh Convention Center
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Parent and child discover the amazing world of mushrooms and learn about these organisms that are neither plant nor animal. Learn how to identify some of the more common types of fungi and discover...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Parents and caregivers of babies and children experience the fun of music with Cotton the Clown. Cotton strums her red fender guitar, performing her vast repertoire of children's favorites...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cafe Euro
2101 S. Main St.
Wake Forest , NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Euro Cafe
Telephone: 919-971-1349
Contact Name: Alice Hoover

More information

Kids hike, make projects and engage in nature activities. Ages 5-8. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park Community Center
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about animal tracks. Observe nature on a habitat hike and use bug traps to catch and release favorite insects. All ages; adult accompaniment required for all children. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder District Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

More information

Miss O has just delivered a very special mission to Ollie and Otto, and they need help to crack the case in this live, interactive spy adventure base on the popular PBS KIDS program "Odd...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC
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

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Parent and child learn more about the park's nocturnal animals and night vision. Take a flashlight.This program is free in celebration of Take a Child Outside Week. Registration required.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Children delight in discoveries of shapes, colors and textures in nature. Ages 1 and older with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Johanna leads preschoolers on a storytime adventure.

Cost: Free

Where:
Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Flyleaf Books
Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

Learn to read the tracks and signs animals leave behind. Find out what animals eat and what they've been up to. Observe animals in action on a hike around the pond. Ages 8-14. Registration...

Cost: $8/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

This workshop provides examples of common forms of disobedience and some reasons why children have difficulty learning to follow instructions. A number of positive parenting strategies are then...

Cost: $20/person, $30/couple

Where:
Project Enlightenment
501 S. Boylan Ave.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-7774
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified and participatory music show. Children delight in active,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Pump it Up Briercreek
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

A wonderfully kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified & participatory music show. Children delight in...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
"Pump it Up" Raleigh
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Learn about coyotes in celebration of Take a Child Outside Week. Ages 6 and older. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Register online.

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy a display of original dirt track cars from 1948-1968, meet the cars' drivers, mechanics and owners, and shop vendors offering vehicle memorabilia.

Cost: Free

Where:
Occoneechee-Orange Speedway
320 Elizabeth Brady Rd.
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Website »

More information

The family-friendly even offers two races: a timed, competitive race and a recreational run. Strollers and dogs are welcome in the recreational run, and costumes are optional (but always...

Cost: $20/person

Where:
SAFE Haven for Cats
8431-137 Garvey Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27616-3180
View map »


Website »

More information

Join volunteers to help clean the park's waterways. Teams will pick up trash along the shore of Lake Crabtree and its connecting creeks. Gloves, bags and other supplies provided. Enjoy raffle...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Give SkyFit (group fitness class) a try for just $2/person. Choose from two separate 25-minute long sessions: the first session begins at 9 a.m.; the second begins at 9:30 a.m.  Price of...

Cost: $2/person

Where:
Sky Zone Durham
1720 Guess Rd. Ste. 90
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to an old-time county fair, featuring live music, animals, agricultural displays, heritage craft displays, re-enactors, quilt auction, and much more! 

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Oak View County Park
4028 Carya Drive
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for games, bounce houses, a hot dog lunch, live music, God's Puppet Squad, magic show, chili cook-off, craft vendors and bingo. Tickets are $8 in advance and will be pre-sold at...

Cost: Free to $8

Where:
New Life Church
6900 Zebulon Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: New Life Church
Telephone: 919-730-9847
Contact Name: Mary Beth Roberson
Website »

More information

Carolina Kinder hosts a monthly storytime in the German for ages 4-7.  The German language and culture come alive with stories, songs, games and crafts.  

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

Learn about all things baby wearing. Whether you just need some advice to get the ideal fit for your carrier, to learn a new wrap knot, or to learn more about what type of carrier would work best...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grow, The Family Boutique
2885 Jones Franklin Rd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family for live entertainment, demonstrations relating to the unique cultural and natural resources of the region, hands-on activities and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
280 State Park Rd.
Apex, NC  27523
View map »


Sponsor: NC State Parks
Telephone: 919-362-0586
Contact Name: Catherine Locke
Website »

More information

Games, entertainment, information booths and food trucks await families in an event that celebrates National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month. All ability levels welcome.

Cost: Free

Where:
Holton Athletic Field
401 N. Driver St.
Durham, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join a nature instructor and look for signs of deer rubbings, deer tracks and deer scat. Decorate deer tracks to take home and play fun games. Ages 6-12 with adult. Register online by Sept. 27....

Cost: $5/participant

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


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music and a hearty meal of soup, sandwiches and dessert to raise awareness of childhood hunger. Proceeds benefit TABLE, a nonprofit that provides hunger relief to local children....

Cost: $15-$50/ticket

Where:
Provence of Carrboro
203 W. Weaver St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
View map »


Website »

More information

Musicians and artisans, local and regional farms, and fisheries and restaurants promote the richness of North Carolina's natural resources. Enjoy live music, fresh seafood and more. Purchase...

Cost: $8 advance tickets, $10 at the door. Ages 12 and younger admitted free.

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


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]

GPS is your guide to explore all the Triangle has to offer, from museum expansions to new parks and schools to youth sports and family fun. Plus, discover our 2016 Readers' Favorites.

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.