Are you welcoming a new child into your family? If you are, you are probably full of excitement and questions.
The big question is, How do you balance work with pregnancy or a new baby?
Many employees have rights to unpaid leave and job protection, while others have rights to North Carolina paid family leave.
Understanding your rights as an employee while you tend to a pregnancy or a new child can be daunting. While you become a parent, we can handle your workplace concerns. Our skilled employment attorneys at EMP Law are determined and able to create safe working environments for multitudes of North Carolinians.
Laws Regarding Paternity and Maternity Leave in North Carolina
Your rights to maternity and paternity leave depend on what kind of job you have. Many employee rights come from federal law.
And there are some additional state benefits for a select number of employees.
Federal Parental Leave Rights
Out of the available leave laws, the United States Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives maternity and paternity leave rights to the largest number of employees in North Carolina.
The FMLA gives employees the right to take leave from work to handle many personal health matters, including:
- Giving birth to a child;
- Caring for a child in the child’s first year of life;
- Caring for an immediate family member who has a serious health condition;
- Responding to an exigent matter involving a family member in the military;
- Welcoming an adoptive or foster child; and
- Tending an employee’s own serious health condition.
Pregnancy qualifies as a serious health condition covered by the FMLA in many instances. If you take leave under the FMLA, your North Carolina employer must hold your job and your benefits while you are on leave and restore your job and benefits when you return.
There are some eligibility requirements you must meet before you can claim parental leave under the FMLA.
To claim FMLA rights:
- Your employer must have at least 50 employees;
- You have to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months; and
- You have to have worked for your employer for at least 1,250 hours in the last 12 months.
If there are not 50 employees in your workplace, do not conclude too quickly that you don’t have FMLA rights. If your employer has a total of 50 employees working within 75 miles of each other, they fulfill the 50-employee requirement.
State Parental Leave Rights
If you are a state employee, you have access to North Carolina Paid Parental Leave (PPL) benefits. An employee who wants to receive North Carolina paid family leave under PPL must work for one of the state cabinet agencies or another state agency that opted to provide the benefits.
You must also have worked 1,040 hours in the past 12 months and be in a permanent or time-limited position to be eligible.
If you are an eligible employee, you can receive PPL benefits for:
- Becoming a parent by birth;
- Becoming a foster parent;
- Becoming a parent by legal placement; or
- Becoming an adoptive parent.
If you are not pregnant but your significant other is pregnant with your child, you do not have to be married to receive PPL. You can prove your eligibility by providing acceptable certifying documentation that shows you are the other parent. A skilled North Carolina attorney can help you gather and properly present all necessary eligibility documentation.
If you are not an eligible state employee or your employer doesn’t have an independent leave policy, your rights to parental leave are under the federal FMLA.
How Long Is Maternity Leave in NC?
FMLA claimants can have up to 12 weeks of leave within a 12-month period.
If you seek benefits under PPL, the length of your leave depends on your circumstances. Employees who give birth receive eight weeks of leave within a 12-month period for recovery and family bonding. Employees who do not give birth receive four weeks of leave within a 12-month period for family bonding and childcare time.
Does North Carolina Have Paid Family Leave?
Only state employees who can receive benefits under PPL are entitled to paid paternity or maternity leave in North Carolina. PPL requires employers to pay 100% of an employee’s regular pay while they are on leave.
Leave under the FMLA is unpaid. If your employer provides short-term disability insurance or paid time off, you might be able to use those benefits to cover some or all of your FMLA leave.
Employer Violations of the Leave Laws
If you are eligible, but your employer denies your request for leave under state or federal law, you can sometimes file a retaliation complaint with the government. Complaints for violations of federal law go to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Speak to your attorney about filing complaints with the state. A good attorney knows when and how to use these resources to your greatest advantage.
Speak to an Attorney Today
Our attorneys at EMP Law know how to protect and enforce your workplace rights.
We have over 140 years of combined experience, and we win case after case for wronged employees. Let us counsel you and resolve your legal issues in the way that is best for you.