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Do my employee rights include maternity leave?

For many people in the United States having a child is one of the most exciting and important moments in life. Beyond the commitment of time necessary during a pregnancy and up to and during the birth of a child, raising an infant comes with a seemingly infinite number of commitments and responsibilities. With this in mind, the United States federal government enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, also known as FMLA.

The FMLA protects employees from their jobs in the event of the birth of a child, or illness to family member. To be eligible for the FMLA, the employee must have worked at least 12 months with a minimum of 1,250 hours with the company. This law is applicable both to mothers and fathers of children. The law entitles employees to up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12 month period to care for a newborn child or ill family member, with the assurance of their job, or an equivalent job of equal wages, upon return.

Although the FMLA does not require that a company pay the employee for the time lost, some employers offer short-term disability benefits that may include maternity leave.

It is important to understand your rights as an employee. The human resources departments in many companies have employee handbooks explaining your rights. If you ever feel as though your rights have been violated, it may be a good idea to get more information about employment law to learn your employee rights and protect yourself from any violations you may encounter.

Source: "Maternity Leave Overview" Accessed May 26, 2015.

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