When a woman is pregnant, the amount of tasks that must be accomplished can be overwhelming: scheduling doctor’s visits, choosing a hospital, adjusting to a new dietary plan, preparing the house for the arrival of the new baby, just to name a few. If the woman is working, another task that must be included is how to prepare for maternity leave at work. Here are three easy steps to make sure the maternity leave planning process is smooth.
Determining the Length of the Leave
The first step is deciding how much time will be taken. Any woman working in the United States who has been with her employer for over a year qualifies for the FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) twelve-week leave. The FMLA leave is unpaid, and also applies to the husband wishing to take time off once the baby is born.
Since the FMLA leave is unpaid, not all working mothers can afford to take the full twelve weeks; however, the unpaid leave can be paired with paid leave benefits, such as vacation time and short-term disability, which is typically 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the insurance carrier. The pregnant working woman should look at all of her options and decide how much time she will take once the baby is born.
Understanding the Company’s Maternity Leave Benefits
Once the length of the leave is determined, the HRM (Human Resource Manager) should be contacted. The HRM can help the expectant mother understand all of her paid benefits.
In addition to paid vacation time, Short-Term Disability is the most common maternity leave benefit. Short-Term Disability typically pays for 60% of the woman’s pay for 6 to 8 weeks after the birth of the baby.
The expectant mother should ask the HRM for an application for the FMLA leave and an application for Short-Term Disability, if that insurance is offered. Both applications need to be completed and signed off by the doctor as well. It is also a good idea for the working mum to keep copies of all paperwork, in case any pages are lost by her insurance company or her employer.
Notifying the Supervisor
Armed with the delivery date and return to work date, the expectant mother can now notify the supervisor. It is important to give plenty of notice to allow time for planning, as it may be necessary to cross-train other employees to handle the responsibilities of the expectant mother once the leave begins.
It is also a good idea to make sure the supervisor has updated emergency contact information, in case the labor pains start while at work and family must be notified. Along with emergency contact info, the name and address of the hospital and doctor should be included for the same reasons.
If the delivery happens earlier than expected, the expectant mother should contact the supervisor as soon as is reasonable. The FMLA and short-term disability paperwork will have to be given to the doctor and updated with the new date.
Develop the Maternity Leave Transition Plan
You will need to start thinking about all of what your job entails. You and your manager can determine who can handle your responsibilities while out on leave.
Some things to thing about:
- Document processes and projects
- Discuss coverage and contact options with your manager
- Plan for supervision and mentoring of your direct reports
- Set aside time to teach those who will be covering for yo
- Create an “If I go into labor during work plan”
- Explore phased re-entry or flexible work options for your return
Conclusion: How to Prepare for Maternity Leave at Work
By determining the length of the leave, understanding her maternity benefits, and notifying the supervisor with plenty of notice, the expectant mother can have a smooth maternity leave planning process.