FAQs regarding pregnancy/birth and the FMLA

Read answers about time off for prenatal visits, spouses, married employees

Posted July 22, 2016

Over the years, employers have asked a number of questions relating to pregnancy and/or birth and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Here are some of them, along with the answers.

Q: How much leave do pregnant employees get?

A: Assuming an employee meets the eligibility criteria, she would be entitled to up to 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for pregnancy, which is considered a serious health condition. Employees might not, however, take all 12 weeks because of the pregnancy, but usually take some when the baby is born and for bonding after the birth.

Q: May pregnant employees take FMLA leave for prenatal visits?

A: Yes, the regulations are quite clear that employees may take FMLA leave for prenatal care.

Q: May spouses take FMLA leave for their wives’ prenatal visits?

A: Yes, since the wife has a serious health condition (pregnancy), and the spouse is needed to care for the pregnant wife.

Q: When should pregnant employees put their employer on notice of the need for leave?

A: In such cases when the need for leave is known in advance, the employee should provide at least 30 days’ notice. Since the employee will likely need time off for prenatal care, the notice should be provided before the prenatal care begins.

Q: May employees take FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis for bonding?

A: Eligible employees are not automatically entitled to FMLA leave on an intermittent or reduced schedule basis when it is taken to bond with a healthy child. To do so, you (the employer) would need to agree to such a basis of leave.

Q: Do married employees who both work for the company get to take 12 weeks of leave each?

A: Spouses who both work for your company may be limited to a combined total of 12 weeks of FMLA leave if the leave is taken for the birth of a child or to bond with the healthy child after birth. Where spouses both use a portion of the total 12-week FMLA leave entitlement, the spouses would each be entitled to the difference between the amount he or she has taken individually and 12 weeks of FMLA leave for other purposes.

Q: What happens if an employee gets pregnant within 12 months of her previous birth?

A: Eligible employees are entitled to take up to a total 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a 12-month period for any and all qualifying reasons; they are not entitled to 12 weeks of FMLA leave for each qualifying reason. Some state laws, however, might provide for more leave.

Q: May employees take FMLA leave to care for a pregnant adult child?

A: Not unless the adult child has a disability and is incapable of self-care because of the disability, in addition to needing care because of the serious health condition. Pregnancy, by itself, is not a disability. Conditions such as gestational diabetes, however, would be considered a disability, as diabetes substantially limits the major life activity of the function of the endocrine system.

This article was written by Darlene Clabault of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.


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