How Can I Get Money From the FMLA for My Maternity Leave?

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 requires covered employers to allow their eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for qualified medical reasons. It allows female employees to use leave for prenatal and postnatal care and to bond with their newborns. Although the leave is unpaid, employers may have to pay their employees for earned vacation, personal or sick pay, if they provide them. Employers required to comply with the act are government employers, schools, and private employers with at least 50 employees. The employees must be within 75 miles and must have worked at least 20 weeks in the last year.


    • 1

      Verify that you are a covered employee under the terms of the Family and Medical Leave Act. If you are covered by the act, you are entitled to continuing health coverage benefits and job restoration. You are protected by the act if you work for a covered employer and you worked at least 1,250 hours within the last 12 months.

    • 2

      Ask your human resources department or supervisor to provide you with a summary of your earned but unused vacation and sick days.

    • 3

      Decide upon how many days or weeks you would like to take for maternity leave. You are given 12 weeks of certified leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. However, if you use all 12 weeks now, you may not be able to use certified leave for unforeseen medical emergencies at a later date.

    • 4

      Calculate your accrued vacation, sick or personal days that you have earned.

    • 5

      Give your employer at least 30 days of written notice before the first day your leave is scheduled to begin. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act does not require you to provide written notice, you should provide written notice, instead of oral notice, to memorialize your official leave request.

    • 6

      Give your employer a written summary of the days that you are requesting payment for in your leave request.

    • 7

      Comply with your employer's call-in procedures during your leave. If your employer requires you to call-in during your leave, you may have to comply with his request.

    • 8

      Contact the Wage and Hour Division within the U.S. Department of Labor if your employer refused to grant your leave request, refused to provide continuing health coverage or refused to pay you. The division's phone number is 1-866-487-9243.

Tips & Warnings

  • Since the date of your maternity leave may coincide with your due date, you may be required to provide an approximate date that your leave should begin. Your employer cannot deny your leave request because your due date was before or after your approximate requested leave date.
  • Under federal law, your employer is not required to provide paid sick days or paid or unpaid vacation days. However, if your employer customarily provides paid vacation or sick days or has a written employment policy requiring compensation, you must be allowed to use unused but earned vacation days before taking your leave on an unpaid basis. Similarly, your employer also has a right to require you to exhaust your paid vacation or sick days before allowing you to take your leave on an unpaid basis.
  • Under federal law, your employer is also not required to provide you with any continuing health benefits if you did not receive health coverage before your requested leave.
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