Maternity leave is one of the big moments in a woman’s career. It’s an exciting and scary time. Exciting knowing that you will be welcoming a new baby soon and scary thinking about the financial burden maternity leave takes on your family. How much time should you take off and how can you afford the time off? Hopefully this post can help you plan the best maternity leave for you and your family.
How long should you take off for maternity leave? How long CAN you take off for maternity leave? Every company has different leave guidelines so it is best to talk to your Human Resources (HR) department about your benefits. A lot of companies must follow the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which provides job protection for 12 weeks. This leave is unpaid and eligibility depends on the size of the company and your employment status. Visit the Department of Labor to find out more about eligibility, www.dol.gov.
When deciding how much leave to take, don’t forget to include your other benefits that may be available to you such as Short-Term Disability (STD) and paid time off (sick and vacation days). These days can come handy when trying to maximize your maternity leave.
If you have STD, either through your employer or individual coverage, this will be very helpful financially. Read the terms of your STD insurance. The most common STD term is 60% of current pay for 6 to 8 weeks after the birth of a child.
Can you live off of your STD insurance payouts? If so, great! If not, how much more do you need to cover expenses? Sit down and do the math. Cut expenses if you need to. You will be surprised what you are willing to live without to stay home with baby.
Does your company offer paid time off (PTO) such as sick days or vacation days? These might be available for use during maternity leave. Be careful about using all of your PTO days during maternity leave. If you have a baby in the beginning of the year, using all of your PTO days can leave you taking unpaid time off later. Kids get sick, vacations are fun, and let’s face it, the Mother’s Day celebrations at daycare are not to be missed. Just some things to keep in mind while dividing up PTO days.
After you figure out how much time you are going to take and your current company benefits, now it is time to come up with extra cash. Saving and finding money is a top priority for your family right now. If you are currently paying off any debts, put this plan on hold. Pay the minimum balances until you have saved the funding you need for your maternity leave.
Read the following posts about finding extra money in your current budget:
I recommend talking to HR first so you can better understand your benefits and decide on how much time to take off. As soon as you have these answers, talk to your boss. Let him or her know when you plan on taking maternity leave and for how long. The sooner you can inform them, the better they can prepare for your absence and you look like an awesome team member. This talk should take place by the time you are 6 months pregnant, depending on the complexity of your role with the company.
Knowing all of this information, I hope you are better prepared to make final decisions about your maternity leave. Enjoy your time with baby, it flies by so fast. I have 2 kids and have taken maternity leave twice. Each time, I have gone through all of these motions.
Congratulations on the new baby!
Are you prepared for maternity leave?
Psalm 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.