Depending on whether you are eligible for FMLA, you may receive up to 12 weeks of job-protected pay under this federal law within the one year following your birth or adoption of a child. FMLA is a federal law that is gender neutral and meant to cover bonding with a child. There are are certain eligibility requirements regarding the size of your employer and how long you must have worked at your company in order for you to take advantage of this FMLA leave.
If for some reason you do not qualify under FMLA for time off, you may still be eligible to take time off under Montana state law.
An employee is entitled to “reasonable” maternity leave which is determined on a case by case basis depending on an employee’s ability to perform her job and what her medical provider considers reasonable. Typically, this comprises between 6-8 weeks off after delivery of a baby. Pregnancy complications or bed-rest orders may extend this period of time, and medical certification may be required if the employer and employee cannot come to an agreement about what constitues a reasonable amount of time.
No, since the law is technically regarding a pregnancy-related disability, non-birth mothers are not covered. However, if an employer permits parental leave for purposes such as bonding (i.e. purposes that have nothing to do with the disability), it must treat fathers and mothers equally.
Under Montana law, employers are not required to provide paid time off, though employees may save up vacation and other paid time off that is paid during disability leave for pregnancy-related medical issues (including post-partum recovery). Similarly, under FMLA your leave is unpaid. To deal with the financial burden, we have suggested a few tips on how to survive an unpaid maternity leave.
Under FMLA, employers must continue to provide you with medical benefits as if you had not taken the leave. Under Montana state law, you may be entitled to more or less depending on what your employer’s policies are with respect to other employees who undergo a disability leave. In other words, you must be treated identically to other disabled employees with respect to your benefits.
FMLA protects your job while you take leave and Montana law also requires that your employer reinstate you to your original job or an equivalent one in terms of pay, seniority and other benefits. However, if your employer goes out of business or undergoes other changes that are significant, they may be exempted. Furthermore, you can be terminated while you are on leave for reasons other than your pregnancy disability.
For state employees (defined as any city, county or Montana state agency employee), Montana law requires that birth mothers receive a reasonable amount of maternity leave. Typically, 6 weeks of unpaid maternity leave is considered reasonable and does not require any medical certification. Employers may request medical evidence if additional time off is requested. Fathers or adoptive parents receive 15 days or paternity leave. Elected state, city or county officials and school teachers are not covered under Montana law.
You may consult Montana's Department of Labor and Industry for more information about maternity leave and pregnancy rights for Montana employees.
Please note: we are not attorneys and the below summary of frequently asked questions and answers are meant to be a helpful summary but is no substitute for consulting a lawyer if you believe you need to.