Adopting your child is an exciting time. You can't wait to meet your new son or daughter. You might even be in the delivery room to witness his or her birth. At the same time, a question is probably weighing on your mind: Do you get maternity leave for adoption?
While you may know the laws, and perhaps your own company's policy, concerning maternity and possibly paternity leave, the legalities concerning adoptive parental leave may be a bit murkier.
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), some employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from their jobs with no threat of job loss. This law applies to public agencies, such as state, federal, and local employers, and schools, and private employers who employeed 50 or more employees for 20 or more workweeks during either this year or the previous year. To be entitled to unpaid leave under FMLA, the employee must have been worked for her employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during those 12 months
Adopting and caring for an adopted child qualifies for leave under FMLA. FMLA also covers traveling time for parents who are adopting their child from outside the United States.
Unfortunately, time spend on meetings, traveling, and caring for your child can really add up for adoptive parents, especially when it's unpaid. In some cases, adoptive parents may use some of their sick leave in addition to family leave to cover the time they need to care for their new child.
Some states grant paid parental leave for employees to bond with newborns and adopted or fostered children. For instance, as of January 1, 2018, New York State grants paid parental leave of up to eight weeks at half the employee's average weekly wages, capped at 50% of the New York State Average Weekly Wage.
While reading the laws governing parental leave for adoption may be discouraging, keep in mind that many companies have created a very generous parental leave policy. Here are five employers with an enviable parental leave policy:
At Amazon, new parents—whether birth or adoptive—are entitled to six weeks of paid leave. Birth mothers are entitled to 20 weeks of paid leave under the policy. In addition, employees may share their paid leave with spouses or partners who don't have paid leave benefits at their own workplace. That means that if you work at Amazon, and your partner works elsewhere and doesn't have adoptive leave benefits, you may take three weeks and give your partner the other three weeks, during which Amazon will pay her base salary.
Etsy grants employees around the world who have biological or adopted children 26 paid weeks of maternity or paternity leave. This lengthy paid leave of absence ensure that new parents have plenty of time to bond with their children before they return to work. The policy applies to all full-time employees, regardless of gender and "primary caregiver" status.
Lauded for its inclusivity, Deloitte's policy allows for 16 weeks of paid family leave—allowing employees the paid leave period to cover elder care responsibilities, spousal care, the birth or adoption of a child, and other family responsibilities.
Spotify's six-month paid leave of absence allowance is available for all new parents for the first three years of the child's life. When they return, their role will be "commensurate with that employee’s current level of experience”—which means employees won't necessarily have the same position when they return to work as when they left. However, the company does continue to provide flexibility after paid family leave through part-time, flexible-hours, and work-from-home options.
During the first year after their child's birth or adoption, Netflix employees are guaranteed unlimited paid leave. This is by far the longest paid leave for adpotive parents (and other maternity and paternity leave periods) policy of which we're aware.
Clearly some employers have very generous policies for adoptive and birth parents alike. But what if yours doesn't?
Your best course of action is to discuss your options with your manager and HR. Discuss the current parental leave policy for full-time employees, and explain your situation. If your company is unable to grant you paid maternity leave, discuss other options, such as the ability to work part time or from home or use your sick leave to take additional paid time off. Remember: Under many circumstances, you're at least entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, so you know you'll be able to return to your job and keep your other benefits.