Being a new mother can be one of the most wonderful experiences a person can have. It can also be one of the hardest things a person can experience, full of stress, anxiety, sleepless nights, physical demands, and the list can go on too long. One of the things that causes new mothers stress is trying to balance all of the tasks of being a new mom with continuing to work and having a career. As a new mom or someone who’s expecting, you do have rights in the workplace. Many new moms don’t know those rights as working mothers, but with knowledge comes power. At Ricotta and Marks, we strive to inform the public of the rights of working moms so they can’t be taken advantage of and they have power and fairness in their work environments.
Maternity Leave is Protected Under Federal Law
The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a one-year period for childbirth, delivery, and postpartum recovery. Eligible employees are ones that have worked for their employer for 12 months prior to taking the leave and the employer must have at least 50 employees.
FMLA leave can also be used for prenatal care such as routine checkups and doctor’s visits. During maternity leave, women also have the right to retain their employer-provided health insurance, however, the employee must continue to pay her share of the premium.
Rights for Working Moms Under New York Law
The laws of New York State add to that of the federal FMLA law. Under New York law, most employees who work for private employers can receive paid leave for postpartum care and after-birth bonding time with their child. Covered employees become eligible to take Paid Family Leave for a qualifying event once they have met the minimum time-worked requirements:
- Full-time employees: Employees who work a regular schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible after 26 consecutive weeks of employment.
- Part-time employees: Employees who work a regular schedule of less than 20 hours per week are eligible after working 175 days, which do not need to be consecutive. Employees with irregular schedules should look at their average schedule to determine if they work, on average, fewer than 20 hours per week.
Once employees meet the eligibility requirements, they remain eligible for that employer until employment is terminated. If employees start a new job, they must work long enough with their new employer to meet the eligibility requirements. Citizenship and/or immigration status is not a factor in employee eligibility.
New York State Paid Family Leave provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of job protection, paid time off to bond with a new child, care for a family member with a serious health condition, or assist loved ones when a family member is deployed abroad on active military service. This time can be taken all at once, or in increments of full days.
Employees taking Paid Family Leave receive 67% of their average weekly wage, up to a cap of 67% of the current New York State Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW). For 2023, the NYSAWW is $1,688.19, which means the maximum weekly benefit is $1,131.08.
If you are an expecting or new mom, you do have rights under federal and New York State law. The employment rights lawyers at Ricotta & Marks are here for you if you feel that you are being taken advantage of due to your pregnancy status. Help is just a phone call away.