Nebraska law requires many employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are unable to work during pregnancy, which may include the right to take time off from work. In addition, the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits employers from discriminating against employees because of their pregnancy, which may give them the right to take time off work in some cases. And for those who work for larger companies in Nebraska, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives them the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. (Although some states have their own family leave laws, Nebraska is not one of them.)
There are three types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws requiring reasonable accommodations during pregnancy, laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination, and laws that require pregnancy leave.
The Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act, as amended in 2015, requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. This law applies to private employers with at least 15 employees.
Your employer must accommodate your known physical limitations unless doing so would create undue hardship for the employer (significant cost or burden, considering the employer's size and resources). Although time off work may be a reasonable accommodation in some situations, your employer cannot require you to take time off if another accommodation is available that would allow you to do your job.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. However, it does require employers to treat employees who are unable to work due to pregnancy just as it treats employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons. For example, if your company lets employees take time off for a temporary disability such as knee surgery or a spinal fracture, then it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work.
The FMLA gives eligible employees in Nebraska the right to take up to 12 weeks off work within a one-year period when for pregnancy and/or parenting leave (among other things). The FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees.
If you qualify, you may use the FMLA to take time off when you are unable to work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You may also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)
Nebraska does not have a state parenting or family leave law, but the federal FMLA gives employees who work for larger companies the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster. This is part of your total 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. So, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.
If you are married to someone who works for the same company, however, your employer can limit your total amount of FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks for both of you. But 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.
The FMLA allows employees to take medical or disability-related leave intermittently, if it's medically necessary. For example, if you have a prenatal check-up, you don't have to take a whole day off; you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave, then go back to work. The same is true for pregnancy-related ailments that don't last all day. If, for instance, you have morning sickness that lives up to its name, you might need a few hours off in the morning, but be able to come to work by lunchtime.
For parental leave, however, the rules are different. You can use your FMLA parenting leave a little at a time only if your employer agrees to it. 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.
FMLA leave is unpaid, and Nebraska does not have a paid family leave law or offer paid short-term disability benefits. 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 might offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or group 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.