Maternity Leave Essentials All Employers Must Know

How do your clients handle maternity leave? The policy helps attract and retain talent, allowing mothers and all new parents to feel more compelled to return back to work, and it also contributes to company loyalty. It is in your clients’ best interest to fully understand what maternity leave is as well as stick to responsibilities as an employer. Here are the basics of maternity leave and how to develop a policy.

The Laws of Maternity Leave

Federal and state laws associated with maternity leave:

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects pregnant employees from discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, ruling that:

  • Candidates cannot be rejected due to pregnancy or related conditions.
  • Pregnant employees cannot be required to undergo procedures to determine their ability to perform job duties that are not applied to all employees.
  • Reasonable accommodations must be offered to pregnant employees.
  • Pregnant employees should be allowed to return to work after giving birth.
  • Pregnancy-related conditions must be treated equally as other conditions in employee health insurance plans.

The Family and Medical Leave Act allows new parents (including fathers and adoptive parents) to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to tend to their newborn, which is part of the 6-8 weeks of maternity leave, not added to it. This must be in effect at a company with 50 or more employees who have been employed there for at least a year. Employers are also required to continue the employee’s health insurance coverage and allow the employee to return to their same job or a position of equivalent salary and benefits.

Paid Family and Medical Leave programs have eligibility requirements, such as working a specific amount of hours, with each state having its own contribution and distribution rates. In states where PFML programs apply, employers set aside money from their employees’ wages to offer paid maternity leave.

Establishing a Maternity Leave Policy

Having a proper maternity leave policy in place helps prevent discrimination lawsuits and is also a great way to set the tone for company culture and keep employees happy. When creating a policy, the first thing to consider is to ensure it is complying with both state and federal laws. Your clients will also want to make it applicable to all parents, as it is no longer just mothers who may need child care leave. Fathers, adoptive parents, and other caregivers can significantly benefit from the policies as well. When new parents feel supported and protected from their employers, it goes such a long way.   

It is also smart to ask for feedback when drafting the policy, using input from different sources, including the HR team, legal representatives, and employees expecting children. Getting a better understanding of how they could actually benefit from the policies and feel supported can help establish a strong plan.

Your clients can protect themself by securing staffing liability insurance and being very clear and specific on who qualifies for parental leave and what they are offering, such as a few specific days off for doctor appointments and minor emergencies, a reduced schedule, or a period of time off. Even if they are not required to offer a paid leave, consider how valuable that can be for the employees and for retention rate. Paid leave is a highly sought-after benefit. This can be done by either paying their entire salary while they’re on leave, a portion of their salary, including disability leave as part of the insurance plan so that the expense doesn’t come directly out of pocket, or allowing employees to use their other paid time off for parental leave.

About World Wide Specialty Programs

For the last 50 years, World Wide Specialty Programs has dedicated itself to providing the optimal products and solutions for the staffing industry. As the only insurance firm to be an ASA commercial liability partner, we are committed to that partnership and committed to using our knowledge of the industry to provide staffing firms with the best possible coverage. For more information about Staffing Professional Liability Insurance or any other coverage, we have available to protect your staffing business, give us a call at (877) 256-0468 to speak with one of our representatives.