If you’re pregnant or planning on taking maternity leave as an employee in New Hampshire, you may be wondering what your rights are. New Hampshire employees are all covered by both federal and state laws regarding pregnancy and maternity leave rights but neither law provides any paid time off.
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.
New Hampshire Maternity Leave and Paternity Leave Rights
If you’re pregnant in New Hampshire and wondering about your maternity leave rights, you may be entitled to unpaid time off under two different laws: The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the New Hampshire laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination that make it illegal to discriminate based on pregnancy, and require your employer provides you with medically prescribed time off if you are unable to work due to your pregnancy or post-partum recovery.
How Much Time Can I Take Off for Maternity Leave?
Under FMLA, you or any new parent (including men and fathers) are entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected time off in the year following the birth or adoption of a new child. However, you must qualify for FMLA which means that you must have worked at least 1,250 hours in the prior year for an employer who employs at least 50 employees within 75 miles of your work-site.
If you don’t qualify because your employer is too small or you’ve worked less than the requisite amount of time, you may still qualify for disability leave under the New Hampshire law, which requires that employers grant pregnant women a leave of absence so long as it is medically necessary (typically 6-8 weeks depending on what your doctor says and what kind of birth you have, e.g. vaginal or C-section delivery). Since this is a disability leave, your employer may request that your doctor provide a medical certification of your inability to work. To qualify for New Hampshire’s pregnancy disability leave, your employer must have at least 6 part-time or full-time employees.
Do I Receive Any Pay During Maternity Leave?
While your employer may voluntarily provide paid leave benefits and wage coverage, they are not obligated to do so. If you are not yet pregnant but anticipate becoming pregnant in the future, you may want to take out a personal short term disability insurance policy which covers any lost wages during the time you are unable to work (which usually covers pregnancy and post-partum recovery but be sure to check the fine print of the insurance policy you are evaluating). Unfortunately there’s no law that requires you receive any payment or salary coverage during your maternity leave. We’ve previously written about ways to prepare for unpaid maternity leave.
What Other Rights Do I Have?
You must continue to receive the same benefits any other employee would receive if they were experiencing a short-term disability if you are taking leave under the New Hampshire state law. This includes things like health care insurance, vacation and seniority accrual. Under FMLA, you are entitled to receive health care benefits as if you were not taking any leave.
For other details regarding your rights to given reasonable accommodation and not be discriminated with respect to hiring and firing, please consult New Hampshire’s website on pregnancy discrimination.
What If I Work for the Government?
The New Hampshire state disability provisions apply to state and local government employees as well as private employers.
How Do I Apply for Pregnancy Disability Leave?
There is no formal application process, per se, but you must give your employer reasonable notice (and some employers may have their own notice requirements) if your leave is not due to an emergency.
What If I Believe My Rights Have Been Violated?
You may file a complaint with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights.
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