Maternity Leave 101

April 10, 2012 12:00 AM by

If you're preparing for pregnancy, you may want to start thinking about maternity leave if you're employed. This is the time that mothers (and often fathers) can take off after giving birth or adopting a child. It's a great way to bond with your baby, get used to a schedule and conduct important business around the house. But how do you go about planning maternity leave? Here's what you need to know.

Usually, maternity leave involves making use of a variety of benefits that your employer is often required by law to give you. This can include vacation time, sick leave, short-term disability and unpaid family leave time. Because all companies and states differ in their policies, your best bet is to talk with your human resources department and devise a plan that works for both you and the business.

Federal law requires employees to give their employers a 30-day notice before taking maternity leave, but it's probably a good idea to initiate a conversation right after your first trimester. Try to schedule a chat with your boss after you've had time to think about your ideal schedule and have developed a plan that you can bring to the table.

As far as when your maternity leave should begin, it depends on a variety of factors. Some new moms leave when they're in their seventh or eighth month of pregnancy, while others continue working right up to their due date. Your energy level, job requirements and any pregnancy complications that you experience should determine this for you.

Basically, preparing for maternity leave should work as follows: learn your rights, read up on your employer's policies, develop a plan that you think would work for you, then talk to your employer. You should be able to create a schedule that will benefit everyone, including your boss, yourself and your brand new bundle of joy.

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