In the United States, employers are not required to provide paid maternity leave for their employees. However, many choose to offer this as a perk. The money paid to a new mother while she is out of work on maternity leave is meant to help her cover her living expenses and the expenses that come with having a new baby until she returns to work.
It is not uncommon for new mothers to choose not to return to work when their maternity leaves are done. Some take maternity leave with the intention of returning to work, only to find that it is too stressful or otherwise not feasible to return while others know from the start of their leave that that they will not return. To curb this latter type of behavior, some companies include clauses in their employment contracts that require employees to repay a portion of their pay received while on maternity leave if they choose not to return. This is not a form of pregnancy discrimination, it is a company’s right to enforce this type of policy. However, new mothers have rights as well with regard to repaying their maternity leave compensation.
Paid Maternity Leave is Often Short-term Disability Coverage
You have the right to receive short-term disability coverage. If your maternity leave compensation comes from your accrued sick or vacation time, you have the right to this money as well. But if it states in your contract that you are required to repay the money you received while on maternity leave if you opt not to return to work, you must repay the money. If there is no such clause in your contract or if there is any language that specifically protects your right to keep the money you were paid while out on maternity leave, you are not required to repay the money if you are asked.
Think About the Ethics of Quitting After Maternity Leave
You know your rights, but there is more to the discussion of quitting your job after your maternity leave than this. Although you certainly can collect payment while on maternity leave, then opt not to return to work, many see the act of doing this intentionally as unethical. To prevent resentment and potential poor recommendations later, tell your employer if you do not plan to return to work as soon as you make this decision.
Work with an Experienced New York Pregnancy Discrimination Lawyer
If you think your rights an employee have been violated in any way, speak with an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your rights and your legal options. To start this conversation and have your questions answered, contact our team at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. to schedule your initial legal consultation in our Queens officer. We are here to help you seek the compensation you deserve – do not allow your employer to take back the money you were entitled to receive.