As an employed mom-to-be in Texas, you likely look forward to taking a maternity leave to welcome your new baby and get to know him or her. If you assume, however, that your employer will pay you your regular salary or wages while you are on maternity leave, you may want to think again. No Texas law mandates a paid maternity or parental leave; therefore, be sure to check with your company’s human resources department early in your pregnancy to determine what, if any, paid maternity leave policies your company has.
It is true that both federal and Texas laws forbid your employer to discriminate against you while you are pregnant. These laws, however, go more to your company’s treatment of you during your pregnancy rather than to a maternity leave itself. In many respects, these laws treat your pregnancy as a disability, with the same rules applying to you as to any other medically disabled employee.
For instance, if you work for a company with 15 or more employees and your job requires you to do work that your doctor says you cannot or should not do while you are pregnant, your employer has the right to require you to document this by providing them with a doctor’s note. This note should clearly state the following:
- The duties you can perform
- The duties you cannot perform
- What accommodations your company could institute to ensure your continued employability, including such things as temporary duty redesign, health and/or safety aids, and a maternity leave
Remember, the above applies only to companies employing 15 or more people. The law does not apply to smaller companies. They have the right to handle your pregnancy in any way they see fit as long as they apply whatever disability policies they have across the board to all their disabled employees.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Under the federal FMLA, you have the right to take up to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave in any one-year period. FMLA, however, applies only to companies with 50 or more employees. In addition, in order to become eligible for a FMLA leave, you must fit within the following three requirements:
- Your worksite must have at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
- You worked for that employer for one or more years prior to the beginning of your leave.
- You worked for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the beginning of your leave.
Remember, the above information applies only to what your employer must do according to federal and Texas laws. What your employer chooses to do voluntarily is another matter entirely. Many companies offer up to 90 days of paid maternity leave as one of their employee benefits.