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Cookie magazine laid out all the federal and state protections for parents who must take leave for a new baby. Admittedly, it isn’t much, but it is something every new parent should know:

"Family and Medical Leave Act
This national law entitles new parents (yes, both moms and dads) to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to recuperate and care for their new baby.

Who qualifies: Anyone who’s been at her job for more than a year and isn’t a “key” employee (defined as someone within the highest-paid 10 percent of employees living within 75 miles of the office). But be aware that if your company employs fewer than 50 people, it does not have to offer this benefit.

What your rights are: If you’re not a key employee, the company must protect your job (or have a similar one waiting for you) and continue your health insurance. The 12 weeks do not need to be taken consecutively (just within a 12-month period)—and you can opt to start them before your baby is born. If you live in California or Washington State, you’re in luck—they’re the only two states that legally require that you be paid for at least a portion of your parental leave.

Short-Term Disability
You can use this insurance to cover all or part of your salary while you’re on maternity leave.

Who qualifies: Five states—Hawaii, California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island—require employers to offer short-term-disability benefits, and many companies and unions in other states also include them in their packages.

What your rights are: Benefits vary, but packages typically offer six to eight weeks off, depending on whether you have a C-section or a vaginal delivery. There’s no standard pay rate during your time off; while some policies offer 100 percent of your salary, others pay just a percentage."

While I knew we were the only industrialized country with no paid family leave, it was embarrassing how little we offer in even unpaid leave. If you are the CEO of a company, a small business employee or are proven to be a “key” worker of the company, you are not entitled to any time off. Frightening.

In the last part of the article, Cookie stated the obvious and said you could always cobble together vacation time, sick days and personal days to create “paid” leave. It also suggested asking your employer to work part-time or from home, which I say, “good luck.” As many parents on this site and elsewhere know, there aren’t a lot of good part-time jobs out there. At least not any that can pay the bills.


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