What tips do you have for handling maternity leave requests?

Leela Moore-Smith asked 3 months ago
We have 55 employees and had an employee tell us she’s pregnant and would like to take time off. We’ve never given someone a leave of absence before. Help! What do we do?
2 Answers
Lauren Perales replied 3 months ago
You need to review FMLA requirements. What state is the company in and where does the employee live? I ask because some states have additional requirements that may need to be discussed.

You should also think about what is required vs your company policy. Some companies choose to give more time because they want to show understanding to employees and to keep them in the fold. If you don’t have a policy, now is a good time to set one and keep it consistent moving forward.
Riia O’Donnell replied 3 months ago
Because of the size of your company, and assuming you have at least 50 full-timers, your employee is protected under the Family and Medical Leave Act and entitled to up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to cover her before, during and after her pregnancy. You will want to create a file and paperwork for her: start with FMLA leave request templates you can find on the web. She will need a doctor's note outlining her needs during the pregnancy, if any, including light duty, when she expects to begin her leave, etc. All these can change as the pregnancy moves along, however. She will be entitled to take hours, days, weeks, months of time off depending on her needs and you will need to document her hours taken and available.
If this is your first FMLA request, you'll need to decide how you will manage them - based on calendar year (January 1 to December 31) or continuous - (beginning at the start of the leave) and make that your consistent policy. If you use the calendar year structure, employees are eligible for 12 weeks or leave (more if your state/locality allows - check with your local Department of Labor) every January 1. If you use continuous they are eligible for another 12 weeks of leave one year after they return from a previous leave. The policy must be consistent for all employees so choose wisely. Calendar year is easier to track, but may mean more leave: continuous is a lot more paperwork. Check the Zenefits site for more info on FMLA leave and options for tracking.