Working moms play an essential role in today’s workforce, balancing their professional career with the responsibilities of motherhood. For first time mothers or even experienced moms, navigating complicated legal terms for maternity rights can be a daunting task. These laws are designed to protect mothers from unfair employment practices, however, some employers will still try to take advantage. It’s important that every mother is armed with the knowledge to protect their rights and ensure fair treatment in their place of work. This blog will cover some of the most important aspects of employment law for mothers
Understanding Maternal Rights in the US
Parental rights encompass a range of legal protections and entitlements designed to support working parents during pregnancy, childhood, and early motherhood. Many of these protections come from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but each state generally has their own set of laws as well.
Maternity leave allows working mothers to take time off work to care for their newborns. The FMLA grants eligible mothers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for childbirth, adoption, or foster care placement.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Also under the FMLA, employees have the right to take unpaid leave for family and medical reasons without risking their job. Eligible employees can take up to 12 weeks of leave for maternity purposes while maintaining health insurance coverage.
Paid Family Leave
In contrast to FMLA leave, some states in the USA have implemented their own paid family leave programs. These programs offer eligible employees a portion of their wages during their absence. As of May 2023, there are 13 states that have these laws in place:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- Rhode Island
Each state implements their laws differently, so it’s important to research how your state handles paid family leave. Your state’s department of labor website will provide more information about specific benefits and requirements.
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to this law, employers with 15 or more employees are prohibited from discriminating against employees in any aspect of employment including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, layoffs, fringe benefits, and any other terms or conditions of employment. It also prohibits discrimination against employees using pregnancy related medical benefits. According to the San Diego pregnancy discrimination lawyers at Walker Law, the PDA also requires employers to provide women recovering from pregnancy with the same benefits and accommodations they would provide to a temporarily disabled employee.
Workplace Accommodations for Pregnant Employees
Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees. Some reasonable accommodations might include:
- Job reassignment to lighter duty
- Working from home
- A closer parking spot
- Flexible hours
- Additional break time
Returning to Work after Maternity Leave
After the conclusion of maternity leave, working mothers have the right to return to their previous or equivalent position with similar pay, benefits, and working conditions. If an employer adjusts any of these in a response to maternity leave, it can be considered retaliation which is prohibited by law.
According to the Fair Labor-Standards Act (FLSA), employers must provide reasonable break time and private place for mothers to express breast milk at work.
Childcare Support and Resources
The federal government offers various programs to help mothers with affordable access to reliable childcare. Here are some of the programs offered:
- Child Care Subsidy Program. Provides financial assistance to low–income families to help with child care costs.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant. Provides funding to states to support child care programs.
- Tax credits. These tax credit programs help families pay for child care. The Child and Dependent Care Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit are examples currently in place.
Maternity Rights Designed for Work-Life Victory
Empowering working moms through a comprehensive understanding of their maternity rights is essential for creating and supporting an inclusive work environment. By asserting their entitlements, working moms can confidently tackle the workplace and focus on raising their child. It’s crucial for employers to establish a culture that supports working moms and promotes a work-life balance. By embracing maternity rights, we can empower working moms to thrive both personally and professionally.