The arrival of a newborn baby is an exciting time for many families. This is also a stressful time for parents who may need to take time off to care for a new child. What rights does a mother in Texas have in terms of maternity leave? Let’s see.
Article by The Labor Law Firm in Houston, Tx
A Woman’s Rights While Pregnant
Texas laws lend protection to pregnant or expecting mothers. Section 21.106 of the Texas Labor Code (Texas’s Commission on Human Rights Act) states, “A provision in this chapter referring to discrimination because of sex or on the basis of sex includes discrimination because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.”
Federal Laws also protect expecting mothers in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The Act strictly prohibits any discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination.
A Woman’s Rights After Pregnancy – Maternity Leave
Although Texas laws protect a woman prior to giving birth, Texas does not have laws that require employers to allow maternity or paternity leave. However, these protections are formed under federal laws.
Federal Family & Medical Leave Act
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act is applicable to Texas residents if both the company and the parent is covered by the law. This Act allows covered employees to take up to 12 weeks off in a 12-month period for certain health-related needs outlined in the law.
A mother works for a covered employer, as outlined in the Act, by doing the following: has worked for the employer at least 12 months before the leave is to commence; has worked at least 1,250 hours in that period; and the employer has at least 50 employees, then that mother is likely eligible to seek maternity leave as per the Act.
It is monumentally important to note that maternity leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act is not paid. However, employers must still pay for the health insurance premium as if the employee is on a regular work schedule. This leave is equally available for mothers and fathers, of both biological and adoptive parents.
When Can Parents Take the Leave?
Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, parents must take the leave within one year after the birth of the child; this could be altered, but only with the permission of the employer.
Both Parents Employed by the Same Employer
If both parents are married and working for the same employer, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows for both parents a combined 12-week period. The Act does not allow for a 12-week period for each parent separately.
If the parents are not married, each parent is entitled to a separate 12-week leave period.
What Happens After the Leave is Over?
When the period of the leave has come to an end, the Family and Medical Leave Act states that the employee is entitled to the exact same position that the employee was in prior to the leave.
In certain situations, that position might have been filled while the parent was on leave; if this were to occur, the parent must be reinstated to an equivalent position.
An equivalent position must be equal in compensation, benefits, and responsibilities.