Maternity benefits may include maternity leave, continuing salary pay, and health care coverage. Maternity leave allows a mother to stay at home with her newborn baby for several weeks before returning to work without the risk of losing her job. Continuing salary pay guarantees that the mother receives a pay check while she is at home, even though she is not working for her company in a traditional manner. Health care coverage can lower or cover the medical expenses accrued by the mother during her pregnancy check-ups and throughout the birth of the baby.
When a woman who is steadily employed becomes pregnant and wishes to continue working after the birth of her child, she may be entitled to maternity benefits. These benefits are sometimes mandated and administered by the local or national government of the country in which the woman works. They may also be increased by the employer at the discretion of the company. Women must typically maintain employment for a specified length of time prior to the birth of the baby to qualify for these benefits.
Many companies choose to offer their pregnant employees maternity leave. This is a set amount of time during which the employee is allowed to leave work and attend to her family needs with the guarantee that her job will still exist when she is able to return. The length of this leave tends to vary between countries and can last between 12 weeks and two years. Companies are typically not required to pay their employees during this time, though most choose to offer some form of compensation as a part of the woman's maternity benefits. Some countries designate a minimum time period which companies must allow women to have during the birth of a child, though the employing business may allow more time off at their own discretion and mothers may return to work before the allotted time has expired.
Maternity benefits can also include the continuation of a paid salary during some or all of the medical leave. If the mother has accrued vacation time at her job, she may choose to collect her vacation pay, which is typically 100% of her regular salary, while she is on maternity leave. Women may also file for disability pay, depending on the country in which they live and its insurance policies. In the US, for example, most women carry insurance through their employer, and can receive up to six weeks of 50% or more of their salary while on maternity leave. In the UK, women are eligible for maternity pay from their employers if they are contributing to the National Health Insurance, and can receive up to 39 weeks of 90% of their regular salary.
Pregnant women require adequate health care coverage before, during, and after the birth of their children. Medical maternity benefits must include perinatal care for the mother during her pregnancy and after delivery. The health insurance policy should also provide for care of the newborn immediately following birth and for well baby check-ups during the first year of life. This type of policy may be provided by the company for which the woman works, or by the national health insurance in countries which administer such plans for their citizens.