Family and medical leave—also called maternity, paternity, and parental leave—allows employees to take time off from work to care for a new child (biological, adopted, or fostered) without having to worry about losing their jobs. Family leave can be private (provided by the company) or public (provided by the state or federal government). It can be paid or unpaid. The benefits provided by the different types of leave often overlap.
Several federal laws protect your job when you return from pregnancy-related leave, but they don't provide paid benefits.
A federal law called the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy and bonding with a new child.
Not all employees are covered by the FMLA. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must:
Note that if you work from home as a remote worker, your home doesn't need to be within 75 miles of where 50 other employees work.
Many states offer their own version of family and medical leave that's more generous than the federal law (see below). If you're employed in one of these states, you're entitled to greater benefits than allowed under federal law.
People taking leave due to pregnancy and childbirth enjoy additional protection under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA prevents employers with at least fifteen employees from making employment-related decisions based on the employee's pregnancy. If you were passed over for a promotion at work and you can show that your employer's decision was based on the time you took off for childbirth, you could have a claim under the PDA.
And the 2023 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who need them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Under the PWFA, reasonable accommodations can include taking leave or time off work when it's medically necessary.
States can choose to provide more benefits than the federal laws. Some states, like California, have FMLA-like laws that protect your job during unpaid leave but:
About a dozen states (and the District of Columbia) have laws establishing paid family leave for employees so they can bond with their new child. Many of these states also offer short-term disability benefits for pregnancy and childbirth, either as a separate temporary disability program or as part of the paid family leave program. To qualify for these benefits, you must meet certain eligibility requirements, like earning a minimum amount in the past year. We'll detail the rules for these states' paid leave programs below.
Private short-term disability insurance, state family leave, and federal unpaid family leave provide different benefits (and can overlap).
Some states provide publicly funded short-term paid disability benefits for pregnant employees, in addition to parental leave for bonding with a new child. These state programs usually require you to show that you can't work because of your pregnancy, and the agencies that administer them will want a note from your doctor saying that you can't work. (Read our article on these state short-term disability programs.)
If your state doesn't provide short-term paid disability, your employer might offer private short-term disability insurance as a benefit. Pregnancy, childbirth, and any complications are usually covered under these policies. Private disability insurance providers generally pay you a percentage of your income while you're on leave. The exact percentage varies by provider and plan. (Read our article on these employer-provided short-term disability insurance.)
If you live in a state with public short-term disability benefits and you also have a private disability policy, your private insurer might pay out a smaller benefit than it would if you didn't also have the state policy, depending on how much the state contributes.
The standard for pregnancy leave is two weeks prior to delivery and six weeks after. But the duration will vary depending on your state, your private insurance policy, and any complications arising from your pregnancy.
In some cases, once your paid disability leave runs out, you're entitled to take up to 12 unpaid weeks under the FMLA. Depending on your state, you might be eligible for additional paid leave as well.
As of the date of this publication, about a dozen states currently offer paid family and medical leave. In those states, if your employer doesn't offer short-term disability insurance, you might qualify for one of the state's leave programs. The following states offer paid short-term disability benefits for pregnancy or paid family leave to take care of a new child.
California offers two paid short-term disability programs for new parents.
Colorado voters approved Proposition 118 in November of 2020, creating the state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. The program will become effective on January 1, 2024.
It will offer eligible employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave. Those who experience pregnancy or childbirth complications can qualify for an additional four weeks. Learn more about taking maternity or paternity leave in Colorado.
Connecticut provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for employees who have met certain earnings requirements (at least $2,325 within a specific timeframe) and who've worked in Connecticut for at least 12 weeks before taking leave. The benefit amount is based on the percentage of your earnings that exceeds minimum wage but is capped at $900 per week. Learn more about paid family and medical leave in Connecticut.
The District of Columbia provides paid family leave to all employees who've spent more than 50% of their time working in DC (including teleworking or telecommuting) at least 12 months before taking leave. The Paid Leave Act provides up to:
The benefit amount depends on your average weekly wage, but the maximum available is $1,049 per week (indexed to inflation). For more information, see our article on parental leave laws in the District of Columbia.
Employees in Delaware will be able to take paid leave starting on January 1, 2026, as a result of the Healthy Delaware Families Act, signed into law on May 10, 2022. The Act provides for up to 12 weeks per year of paid leave to care for a child during the first year after the child's birth, adoption, or foster placement.
The benefit will provide up to 80% wage replacement (as much as $900 per week) for people who've worked at least 1,250 hours in the previous year for a Delaware employer. Learn more about taking time off during pregnancy in Delaware.
Hawaii has a Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) law requiring that large private employers provide short-term disability benefits for pregnancy. To be eligible for TDI, you need a doctor's note stating that you can't work while pregnant. You also need to meet all of the following eligibility requirements:
The benefit is 58% of your average weekly wage, up to $762 per week, for a maximum of 26 weeks. For more information, see our article on Hawaii's TDI benefits.
Starting May 1, 2026, most employees in Maine will be able to take paid family leave under a new paid family and medical leave law. To be eligible for paid leave, all of the following must be true:
You can use a total of 12 weeks of paid leave per 12-month period for medical reasons, like when you can't work due to pregnancy, and for family reasons, like bonding with a new child (by birth, adoption, or foster placement).
The benefit amount is based on your earnings and the SAWW, up to the maximum of $1,104 per week. Learn more about the benefits available for new parents in Maine.
Paid leave will be available in Maryland beginning on January 1, 2026, under the state's Time to Care Act which created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance (FAMLI) program. The program will provide paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a new child.
The benefit will be available for people who've worked at least 680 hours in the year before taking leave. The exact amount of the benefit is calculated from percentages of both your average weekly earnings and the statewide average, but the maximum you can receive is $1,000 per week, indexed to inflation. Learn more about your maternity and parental leave rights in Maryland.
Employees in Massachusetts are eligible for up to 26 weeks of paid leave per year (combined medical and family leave). For pregnancy and childbirth, you can take up to 20 weeks of medical leave if a health care provider certifies that your condition prevents you from working. Parents and legal guardians can take up to 12 weeks of paid family leave to bond with a new child.
The earnings requirement to qualify for this benefit is at least $6,000 per year (as of 2023), and the earnings must be 30 times the benefit amount. The benefit amount is calculated from percentages of both your average weekly earnings and the statewide average, but the maximum you can receive is $1,129 per week. Learn more about Massachusetts' paid family and medical leave benefits.
Minnesota's new paid family and medical leave program will begin on January 1, 2026. Most employees in the state will be eligible to participate after earning more than about $3,500 in the state in a year. Benefits will be paid from a state fund financed by employer and employee contributions (through payroll deduction).
Benefit amounts will be calculated using a rather complex formula based on your average weekly earnings as compared to the state's average weekly earnings. The maximum weekly benefit allowed equals the state average weekly earnings.
Minnesota's paid leave program will provide up to 12 weeks of medical leave or family leave per year for a single qualifying event. You can use up to 20 weeks of combined medical and family leave if you have more than one qualifying event in the same claim year.
For example, let's say you take medical leave for the last two weeks of your pregnancy and for six weeks while you recover from childbirth. You'd still have 12 weeks available that year for another reason, like bonding with your new baby or caring for a sick family member. Learn more about Minnesota's family leave laws.
New Jersey has two paid leave programs for new parents:
For 2023, you must have earned $260 per week for 20 weeks, or $13,000 in a year, to qualify for these programs. The benefit can be as much as 85% of your average weekly earnings up to a maximum amount ($1,025 for 2023). For more information, see our article on New Jersey Short-Term Disability and Pregnancy.
New York has two paid leave programs available to new parents.
Your combined total of disability leave and paid family leave can't be more than 26 weeks in any one-year period. To qualify for these NY programs, you must have worked full-time for 26 weeks for a single employer or worked part-time for 175 days. Learn more about New York's paid family leave benefits.
Under Rhode Island's Temporary Caregiver Insurance Program, new parents can receive up to six weeks of paid leave at 60% of their average weekly wage. Rhode Island also has a Temporary Disability Insurance program you can take advantage of if your doctor certifies that you can't work during pregnancy.
For claims filed after December 31, 2022, to be eligible for these RI programs, you must have earned at least $15,600 in a year. If you haven't, you can still qualify for these programs under a more complicated earnings calculation.
Both benefit programs pay 60% of your average weekly wage, taken from the three-month period with your highest earnings. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $1,043. Learn more about Rhode Island's paid family leave benefits.
Starting September 3, 2023, Oregonians will be able to take 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a child after birth, adoption, or foster placement. You can take an additional two weeks of paid leave for pregnancy or childbirth. The program is available to anyone who's earned $1,000 in the year before taking leave.
The benefit amount is calculated based on a combination of your average earnings and the average earnings in the state. Low-wage workers can get up to 100% of their average weekly earnings. The minimum benefit amount is $63.48 per week, and the maximum is $1,523 per week (in 2023). Learn more about Oregon's maternity and parental leave laws.
The State of Washington offers paid family leave for employees who have worked at least 820 hours (16 hours per week on average) during a qualifying period (a one-year period before taking leave). If you qualify, you can receive up to:
The benefit amount can be up to 90% of your average weekly pay, with a maximum of $1,427 per week (in 2023). You can read more about Washington's paid family leave here.
Updated August 1, 2023