Compliance to Maternity Leave Provisions

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Thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), women who become pregnant can count on taking up to 12-weeks away from work without fear of losing their job, pay rate or benefits.

According to the US Department of Labor, the FMLA also allows workers to maintain their work and family life by taking a sensible amount of unpaid leave for medical care of loved ones and for personal health care reasons. The FMLA aims to achieve a work-life balance in ways that benefits the legitimate demands of organizations, and decreases the odds of discrimination on the basis of gender, while supporting equal employment prospects for both men and women.

While taking leave through the FMLA for maternity reasons is unpaid, workers may decide to use, or employers may need the employee to work with, accumulated paid out leave to pay some or all of the FMLA leave considered. Workers may choose, or employers may necessitate, the replacement of accumulated paid vacation or personal leave for the circumstances protected by FMLA. The replacement of accumulated sick or family leave is restricted by the employer’s policies, according to the law.

An employee looking to get paid during leave should consult with their human resources department approximately if or not their company will call for the use of paid leave before using maternity leave under the FMLA. Regardless of whether a company requires it, a worker may still want to first use accumulated time for obvious financial reasons.

During the absence, a workplace, which offers a group health insurance plan, must preserve health insurance coverage, including family coverage, for a worker on FMLA leave on the same conditions as if the worker kept working.

It should be mentioned that arrangements may need to be made for workers on FMLA maternity leave to cover their contribution to health insurance premiums. If the group health plan entails co-payments by the company and the worker, a worker on FMLA maternity leave must arrange to pay her, or his, normal part of the insurance premiums to preserve insurance coverage. These payments may be made under any agreement consented to by the company and worker.

An company’s responsibility to preserve health benefits under FMLA stops if and when a worker informs the company of an intention not to go back to work at the end of the FMLA leave period, or if the worker doesn’t go back to work when the FMLA maternity leave period ends. The employer’s responsibility also stops if the worker’s premium payment is over 30 days late and the company has given the worker written notice a minimum of at least 15 days ahead of time informing them that coverage may end if payment is not received.

In some situations, the company may recover premiums it paid to preserve health insurance coverage for a worker who doesn’t come back from FMLA maternity leave.

Not Covered by the FMLA During Maternity Leave

One aspect of a job not covered by FMLA is certain kinds of benefits, such as seniority or paid leave. These perks are not necessarily accruing while a worker is on FMLA maternity leave, so long as such perks do not accumulate for workers on other kinds of unpaid leave.

If a worker was entitled to a bonus prior to taking FMLA maternity leave, the worker would be entitled to the bonus upon going back to work. For instance, if a company offers a perfect attendance bonus and the worker has not been absent before FMLA leave, the worker would still be entitled to the bonus upon coming back from FMLA leave.

For some benefits, such as elected life insurance coverage, the company, and the worker may make plans to continue benefits during times of unpaid FMLA leave. A company may opt to continue these benefits to make certain that the employees will be qualified for restoration to the same benefits when they come back. Following the FMLA maternity leave, the company may get back just the employee’s share of premiums it paid to preserve “non-health” benefits.

When a worker finally does come back from FMLA maternity leave, they are only guaranteed a job, their pay rate, and benefits. However, they are not guaranteed the same job that they had before taking leave. Also, a worker may not get their job back in extremely rate situations where employment will cause “substantial and grievous economic injury” to company operations. These situations typically involve highly-paid, “key” employees.

To deny a returning worker their job, the company must inform the worker in writing of their standing as a “key” worker as defined by FMLA. They must also inform them of reasons for refusing job restoration and offer the worker a realistic chance to go back to work after informing the worker.

Making Provisions After FMLA Maternity Leave

Of course, once a woman gives birth to a child, the physical support of her child does not necessarily end. As part of the Affordable Care Act, nursing mothers are allow break time “to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee or employees have need to express the milk,” according to the DOL website.

Companies are also essential to offer a private location, other than a bathroom; that is clear of intrusion from both coworkers and the public, which can be utilized by a worker to express breast milk. All employers, except those with fewer than 50 employees, are subject to the break time requirement spelled out under the expansion of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) under the ACA.

If a company with less than 50 workers can show compliance with the stipulation would inflict an unnecessary hardship, they can be exempted. An undue hardship is established by examining the difficulty or cost of compliance for a particular company considering the size, financial resources, type of business or makeup of the business.

Navigating Compliance in Relation to Maternity Issues

For companies looking to stay in compliance with and manage issues related to maternity, Qcera offers a range of software and web-based solutions. Each of Qcera’s products is fully backed up with complete customer service.