Many employers offer some form of maternity leave entitlement, but the details vary from one company to another, especially when it comes to the length of the leave and the pay involved. One of the main factors is the job itself, because some companies require employees to use their sick days, personal days and vacation time to get paid time off, while others let women add these to their maternity leave to lengthen it. In addition, some companies in the United States have to adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), while others do not. This is because the location of the job has a lot to do with maternity leave entitlement, on which local laws tend to differ.
Most companies offer some time off to new moms, but some are more accommodating than others. In many cases, maternity leave is a combination of sick days, personal days and vacation time. Holiday time, unpaid family leave and short-term disability also may be added up to create anywhere from six to 12 weeks off work. Some companies, though, offer at least six weeks of maternity leave entitlement, and then allow women to add their unused sick days, vacation time and personal days to lengthen the time off. In addition, while many companies offer at least some paid time off, few pay for the entire maternity leave, so women should talk to their employer's human resources department before deciding how much time off they can afford.
Some areas have laws in place to protect new mothers, ensuring that they can take time off with their baby without losing their job. For example, the U.S. enforces FMLA, which requires companies to allow new parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave, with the guarantee that their job, benefits and salary will stay the same when they return to work. The law, however, only applies to government jobs and companies with at least 50 employees. Additionally, the employee has to have worked for the company for at least one year, averaging 25 or more hours per week during that time. There are some exceptions to the law, so women are advised to find out if they are eligible when considering maternity leave entitlement.
In addition, some states have laws that are stricter than FMLA, so women should find out the rules in their specific area. For example, some states in the U.S. require companies to offer short-term disability to employees, in which case either some money is taken out of the paycheck each month, or the company pays the premium entirely. Short-term disability pays qualifying new mothers a portion of their salary for up to six weeks, though women with complicated deliveries may get more time off. Maternity leave entitlement in the United Kingdom usually lasts about one year and tends to offer a majority of the salary during this time. New parents in Canada can get a portion of their salary for up to 50 weeks, while those in Australia can get one year of unpaid leave or up to 18 weeks paid at the minimum wage.