Am I Entitled to Maternity Leave in New York?

entitled to maternity leave

The birth of a child is an exciting time for a family, but it can also be physically and emotionally exhausting. Parents need time to rest, recover, and bond with their newborn. There are numerous laws that provide maternity leave rights in New York.

For example, new parents can request unpaid parental leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as New York laws that ensure paid benefits. There are also laws in place to protect against workplace discrimination while pregnant or taking time off work to care for your newborn.

Exercising your rights under state and federal maternity leave laws is not always straightforward. Our top-tier legal team is here to make sure you know your full legal options. Call (212) 227-5700 or reach out online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

Understanding Maternity Leave Rights in New York

Families with newborns enjoy legal protections and benefits at both the federal and state levels. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act ensures unpaid maternity leave across the country. In New York, Paid Family Leave also provides some of the most comprehensive maternity leave benefits in the nation.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The FMLA is a federal labor law that gives eligible workers the right to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for family and medical care. The birth and care of a newborn is a qualifying reason to take FMLA leave. Employers are not required to pay employees while they are on FMLA leave, but they must continue providing health insurance.

Paid Family Leave (PFL)

Specific to New York, PFL provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of paid leave. Qualifying reasons include bonding with a newborn, taking care of an ailing family member, or helping loved ones after a family member is deployed in active military service.

Employees who take PFL have a right to return to their same or comparable job when they return to work. Further, though employers may require employees to pay premiums, employees are guaranteed continued health insurance while away.

Short-Term Disability Benefits

In New York, disability benefits provide weekly payments and time away from work to employees with a temporary disabling condition, including pregnancy. Unlike parental leave under federal and state law, disability benefits are only available to mothers.

To qualify for these disability benefits, you may need a medical report from a medical provider stating that your inability to work is due to pregnancy. Importantly, you cannot collect disability and PFL benefits at the same time.

Eligibility for Maternity Leave in New York

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Employees are eligible for [FMLA] leave if they have worked for their employer at least 12 months, at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and work at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.”

By contrast, employees with a regular work schedule of 20 or more hours per week are eligible for PFL after 26 weeks of employment. If an employee has a regular work schedule of less than 20 hours per week, they are eligible for PFL after 175 days of work.

To be eligible for disability benefits, you must be under the care of a medical professional, such as a physician or certified nurse midwife. Once you have qualified for more than seven days, make sure you receive a formal Statement of Rights Under the Disability Benefits Law from our employer.

Maternity Leave Duration and Benefits in New York

PFL also provides 12 weeks of maternity leave with pay. During this time, your job is protected. You don’t have to take the leave days consecutively, but they must be taken in full-day increments (as opposed to half days). PFL pays up to 67 percent of your average weekly wages up to a fluctuating maximum. The maximum weekly pay during PFL in 2024 is set at $1,151.16.

The FMLA allows leave for up to 12 weeks in a year. However, leave under this federal law is unpaid. Further, if you are eligible for leave under both the FMLA and PFL, your employer can require you to take the 12 weeks at the same time, so long as they give you notice.

Mothers may also qualify for New York disability benefits for 4 weeks before giving birth and 6 weeks after giving birth (8 weeks if they underwent a C-section birth). Benefits can be extended for a maximum of 26 weeks with supporting documentation from a healthcare provider. Importantly, you cannot collect disability and PFL benefits simultaneously.

Maternity Discrimination and Legal Protections

Maternity discrimination occurs when expectant or postpartum employees are treated unfairly due to their condition. Examples of pregnancy discrimination may include:

  • Being relieved of your duties and sent on unpaid leave without requesting it.
  • Wrongfully terminating employment to pregnancy.
  • Denial of promotion after maternity leave.
  • Failure by your employer to reinstate your previous position or grant one of equivalent stature.
  • Reduced hours and wages during pregnancy or after returning from maternity leave.

If you’ve experienced maternity discrimination at your workplace, consult with our employment law attorneys as soon as possible. Maternity discrimination is illegal and prohibited under multiple federal and state laws, including the:

It is also illegal to retaliate against employees trying to exercise their rights. At Joseph & Norinsberg, we have decades of experience defending the rights of New York workers. Our skilled employment attorneys have secured numerous settlements and verdicts worth multiple millions of dollars.

The high quality of our services has earned us the trust of the legal community and countless happy clients. Learn more by exploring their glowing testimonials.

Seeking Legal Assistance for Maternity Leave Issues

Our pregnancy discrimination attorneys will serve as your closest allies throughout the life of your case, helping you navigate complex legal issues and ensuring your rights are protected during this important time for you and your family. Among other things, our services include:

  • Legal Advice – Our maternity leave attorneys can provide personalized legal advice tailored to your unique situation, explaining your rights and obligations under state and federal maternity leave laws.
  • Negotiation – We can negotiate with your employer or their legal representatives to ensure you receive fair treatment and accommodations during your maternity leave.
  • Advocacy and Representation – If necessary, we can represent you in legal proceedings, such as filing a complaint with government agencies or litigating against your employer for discrimination or violation of maternity leave laws.
  • Documentation – We will also help you gather and organize documentation to support your case, such as medical records, communications with your employer, and relevant company policies.

If you’re facing unfair treatment at work due to pregnancy, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Waiting to long can seriously compromise the viability of your case. Among other things, it will raise the risk of losing crucial evidence and give uncsrupulous employers time to obfuscate the truth.

Contact the New York Employment Lawyers at Joseph & Norinsberg

If you are expecting or recently had a child, federal and state laws entitle you to a wide range of parental leave benefits. However, navigating these laws can be complex, especially if it is your first time.

If you need help exercising your rights under maternity leave laws in New York, our knowledgeable legal team will fight for you every step of the way. Our firm specializes in New York employment law, and we have what it takes to handle your case from start to finish. Call (212) 227-5700 or reach out online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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