In some countries, paid maternity leave, and sometimes paternity leave, is available to all workers as a matter of government policy. In other places, paid maternity leave is a benefit offered by some employers, but there is no law requiring an employer to provide parental leave to its employees. In such places, if you want paid maternity leave, you may have to either choose to work for an employer that offers such a benefit or use saved up vacation time, sick time, or short-term disability insurance to cover time off work after giving birth. You may also need to negotiate with your employer in order to get the time off that you need.
If you live in an area that requires employers to provide paid maternity leave, you will typically need to comply with legal or employer policy regarding notifying your superiors about your intention of taking maternity leave. Similarly, if you work for an employer that voluntarily provides paid maternity leave, your employer may request that you give a certain amount of advance notice prior to taking time off. Typically, this sort of notification policy is included in your employee handbook. If you are unclear on the process, you should contact your human resources office to find out what you need to do.
In situations where you are not entitled to statutory maternity leave and your employer does not automatically provide paid maternity leave, you may need to begin working with your employer to use your current benefits, such as vacation time, sick time, and short-term disability insurance, to provide you with paid maternity leave. In such cases, you may be able to use all or part of the time off that you would normally get in your job toward maternity leave, and you may be able to make up the shortfall with your short-term disability insurance.
If you need to use your short-term disability insurance to cover the postpartum period, you should make sure that the insurance actually covers pregnancy and childbirth-related recovery time. You may also be protected by laws that grant you unpaid leave during or after your pregnancy so that you can get your job back after you return to work. If you have neither short-term disability insurance and nor a considerable amount of earned time-off benefits, you may need to ask your employer for other accommodations after you have your baby, such a shorter work day or the opportunity to telecommute.