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Negotiating Maternity Leave: A Step by Step Guide

Having a baby often comes with some time off from work, but the amount of time off and whether you will be paid vary from employer to employer. This can be an added stressor for many women; however, maternity leave is often is up for negotiation. 

Consider negotiating maternity leave with your boss by following these steps.

Step 1: Understand What Maternity Leave Is All About

Maternity leave is defined as the time a new mom takes off from work after having a baby. Most women take the time immediately following a birth to recover and tend to a new baby’s needs. Some companies will offer paid maternity leave for a period of six weeks or more, but others offer nothing.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), certain parents of either gender can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work to care for a new child. To qualify, the new parent must have been with their company for at least a year and worked at least 1,250 hours during the past year. They must also work for a company with 50 or more employees.

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMLI) was introduced in Congress in February 2017. If the bill passes, it will provide paid family and medical leave, equal to roughly two-thirds of a person’s monthly pay, for up to 12 weeks a year.

Step 2: Determine How and Where You’ll Negotiate

Depending on the formality of your office, carefully choose the medium by which you announce your pregnancy. You may have to provide a maternity leave letter, but it’s best to have a face-to-face meeting in the office prior to handing in your letter, which may also need to be submitted to the company’s human resources department.

You want to talk with your boss about your maternity leave options before the office rumor mill begins working. For this reason, it’s wise to request a face-to-face meeting with your boss before announcing to your co-workers that you’re pregnant.

Discussing maternity leave should happen sooner rather than later in most offices. This extended time frame allows your employer to devise a plan for when you’re on maternity leave.

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