Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  Parental Leave

Parental leave is any leave taken by an employee for the birth, adoption or placement of a child. Parental leave can be taken as a form of Family Medical Leave or any other leave provided by the employer. Pregnancy or maternity leave is a form of parental leave taken either for a disability related to pregnancy or childbirth, as well as the time taken after birth to care for a newly born or placed child. Men can also take parental leave, also known as paternal leave, to care for a newborn or newly placed child.

1. Which federal laws cover pregnancy leave discrimination?

The federal laws that prohibit pregnancy discrimination and provide for disability and parenting leaves are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which includes the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. A denial of pregnancy leave may violate Title VII, the Family and Medical Leave Act, or both laws, depending on whether an employee qualifies for protection under each law and the nature of the employer's conduct.

2. Is my employer required by law to offer pregnancy leave?

It depends. If employees are allowed to use leave such as sick leave or short-term disability leave when temporarily disabled by illnesses or injury and due to an inability to work and/or need for medical care, then pregnant employees are entitled to take leave during the time they are similarly disabled.

However, employers are not required to treat pregnancy more favorably than they treat other temporary disabilities. If an employer does not provide leave for temporary disabilities and temporarily disabled employees must take leave without pay, be docked for absences, and/or face termination after a certain number of absences, then pregnant employees may risk the same consequences for pregnancy-related absences.

3. How long am I eligible to take leave to bond with my child after birth?

Leave to bond with a newborn or newly placed child must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement. FMLA intermittent leave can be used for this purpose but must be approved by your employer. If the newly born or newly placed child has a serious health condition, the employee has the right to FMLA leave to care for the child intermittently if medically necessary and such leave is available.

Thought of the Week

"The pandemic has accelerated an already urgent need for paid parental leave. Despite the US being home to 30.4 million families with at least one employed adult, it is still the only wealthy country in the world that doesn't offer a federally mandated leave."

–Caroline Hroncich | Business Insider

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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