Louisiana's Employment Discrimination Law gives you the right to take unpaid pregnancy leave, and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy plus childbirth and parenting. But those aren't the only laws protecting pregnant workers in Louisiana.
In addition, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which might give you the right to take time off work in some cases. And the 2023 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) broadens workplace protections for pregnant employees.
Two types of laws might protect your job if you need pregnancy leave. These include laws protecting you from pregnancy discrimination and requiring employers to grant pregnancy leave.
The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law requires employers with at least 25 employees to allow workers temporarily disabled by pregnancy and childbirth to take unpaid time off work. Under the law, you can take up to six weeks off for a normal pregnancy and childbirth and up to four months off for more disabling pregnancies. (La. Rev. Stat. § 23:342(A)(2)(b).)
The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work (unpaid) in a one-year period for:
But the FMLA only applies to employers with at least 50 employees. If you work for a covered employer, to be eligible for leave, you must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before your leave begins.
The FMLA allows you to take intermittent leave if it's medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up or morning sickness, you don't have to take a whole day off. Instead, you can use as little as a few hours of leave and then go back to work.
(Learn more about taking FMLA leave for pregnancy and childbirth.)
Two federal pregnancy discrimination laws cover employers with 15 or more employees:
The PDA doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. Instead, the law requires your employer to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy just like other employees temporarily disabled due to illness or injury. That equal treatment clause extends to sick leave and disability benefits too. (29 C.F.R. § 1604.10(b).)
So, if your employer would let an employee take time off to recover from surgery, you must be allowed to take time off when you need to because of pregnancy. And if your employer pays disability benefits when an employee takes medical leave, you must also receive benefits if you take medical leave for pregnancy.
The PWFA is a 2023 law that requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who need them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. (42 U.S.C.§2000gg-1.) And a congressional report on the PWFA included time off work on a list of examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy.
(Learn about your workplace accommodation rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).)
Louisiana has no state law giving employees the right to take time off for parenting. But you can take leave under the FMLA if you work for a covered employer. Under the law, both parents have the right to take time off work to bond with their new child. (29 C.F.R . § 825.120.)
If you qualify for FMLA leave, the law gives you the right to take time off to bond with a new child as part of your total 12 weeks of leave. So, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have ten weeks left for parenting leave.
You can use FMLA parenting leave a few days or weeks at a time or to work a part-time schedule for a while—but only with permission from your employer. If your employer agrees to let you use your parenting leave intermittently, you must finish your time off within one year after your baby is born.
If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can require you and your spouse to share the 12 weeks of FMLA parenting leave. (Note that this rule doesn't apply to unmarried couples.) So, if you use six weeks of FMLA parental leave, your spouse would have only six weeks of parental leave available.
Whatever portion of your own 12 weeks of FMLA leave you don't use for parenting will still be available to you for other reasons, including your own serious health condition or to care for a sick family member.
FMLA leave and leave under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law is unpaid. But you can use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off. Your employer might actually require you to use your paid time off this way. (29 C.F.R § 825.207(a).)
Your employer might also offer maternity leave benefits or parental benefits. You might have employer-provided short-term disability insurance that covers pregnancy and childbirth. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.
Learn what happens when you return to work after FMLA leave.
Updated September 8, 2023