Companies are Cutting Back on Maternity and Paternity Leave — Here Are 5 Ways to Prepare

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
May 27, 2024 at 12:11AM UTC

In 2020, 53% of companies offered paid maternity leave beyond the minimum required by law. Now, the Society for Human Resource Management finds that that number has dropped significantly — down to 35%, according to a survey of some 3,000 employers. Companies that are cutting — or at least cutting back on — the benefit include Hulu, among other major corporations. 

For new and expectant parents, this is alarming. Many employees rank generous paid parental leave as one of the most important benefits their employers can offer. So, what do you do?

1. Know your company’s policy.

First things first: you need to know what you’re up against. Look into your company’s exact policy, and find out what you can expect in terms of parental leave. If you have any questions, go to HR, and make sure you understand what it is you’ll receive in terms of paid leave.

2. Look into your state and local laws.

Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington, along with the District of Columbia, require paid family and medical leave. Some cities require it as well. Look into your state and local laws to ensure that your employer is complying and you’re being given the leave that is required.

3. Understand your rights.

Even if you don’t get paid while you’re on maternity or paternity leave, it’s important to know what you ARE entitled to. For example, you cannot be fired because of your pregnancy or during maternity leave, assuming your employer doesn’t have other just cause for terminating you. This is a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Moreover, many full-time employees are entitled to unpaid leave, thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This does not apply to every employer — the company must have at least 50 employees, for one — but it does cover the majority of public, private and government employers.

4. Save up on PTO.

As soon as you know you’re pregnant or expecting to adopt or foster, begin saving up your vacation time, sick days, personal days and whatever other paid time off you have available to you. You may also be entitled to disability leave prior to giving birth — pregnancy qualifies as a disability. You will find it helpful to have this cushion.

5. Work with your employer.

Even if your employer doesn’t explicitly have a policy offering paid leave or as much paid parental leave as you’d like, they may be willing to work with you to create a plan that satisfies both of you. Discuss your options with your manager and HR — you could very well find a solution together.

It is no doubt upsetting when your employer doesn’t offer you the paid parental leave you deserve and need. But there are ways to make the situation work for you — even if it’s not ideal.

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance editor and writer based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab-mix Hercules. She primarily focuses on education, technology and career development. She has worked with Penguin Random House, Fairygodboss, CollegeVine, BairesDev and many other publications and organizations. Her humor writing has appeared in the Weekly Humorist, Slackjaw, Little Old Lady Comedy, Flexx Magazine, Points in Case, Jane Austen's Wastebasket, and Greener Pastures. She also writes fiction and essays, which have appeared in publications including The Memoirist and The Avalon Literary Review. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

Is your company cutting back on maternity and paternity leave? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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