Louisiana’s Employment Discrimination Law gives you the right to take pregnancy leave, and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting. In addition, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which may give you the right to take time off work in some cases.
There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination and laws that require pregnancy leave.
The Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law requires employers with at least 25 employees to allow employees who are temporarily disabled by pregnancy and childbirth to take time off work. Employees may take up to six weeks off for a normal pregnancy and childbirth, and up to four months off for more disabling pregnancies.
The FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for pregnancy, prenatal care, and childbirth. The FMLA, however, applies only to employers with at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible for leave if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, and at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding their leave.
The FMLA allows employees to take their leave intermittently, 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; you can use several hours of leave and then go back to work. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)
The PDA does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work, but it does require employers to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats other employees who are temporarily disabled due to illness or injury.
The FMLA gives you the right to take time off to bond with a new child as part of your total 12-week leave. So, if you use, say, two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.
If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a a few weeks at a time or to work a part time schedule for a while, you must get 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 the baby is born
If you are married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. (Note that this rule does not apply to unmarried couples.) However, 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.
Although some states have their own parental leave laws, Louisiana does not.
FMLA leave and leave under the Louisiana Employment Discrimination Law is unpaid. However, you may ask—or your employer may require you—to use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off.
Your employer may also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or short-term disability insurance. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.