Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Nebraska

Nebraska requires employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations but has no state pregnancy or parenting leave laws.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Federal law and Nebraska law require many employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who can't work during pregnancy, and one accommodation might be the right to take time off from work. And the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) offers additional protections that might give some pregnant employees the right to take time off work.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives employees in Nebraska the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, but it only applies to larger companies. (Although some states have their own family leave laws, Nebraska isn't one of them.)

Read on to learn more about the state and federal maternity and parental leave laws that protect Nebraska workers.

Maternity Leave During Pregnancy in Nebraska

Three types of laws might protect you if you need pregnancy leave in Nebraska. Some laws require reasonable accommodations during pregnancy, and others prohibit pregnancy discrimination. And some Nebraska employees are also protected by federal laws that require pregnancy leave. But all of these types of leave are unpaid.

Nebraska Laws on Reasonable Accommodations During Pregnancy

The Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act requires employers to provide job accommodations for pregnant employees. This law applies to private employers with at least 15 employees. The law lists modified work schedules and time off to recover from childbirth as reasonable accommodations for an employee's pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition. (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1101(11).)

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. (41 U.S.C. § 2000gg.) Unlike the Nebraska law, the PWFA applies to private and public-sector employers (including the federal government) with at least 15 employees.

Both the PWFA and the Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act require employers to accommodate pregnant employees unless doing so would create an undue hardship for the employer—a significant cost or burden, considering the employer's size and resources. And both laws bar your employer from requiring you to take time off if another accommodation is available that would allow you to do your job.

(Learn when you might have the right to take time off as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).)

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in Nebraska

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. Instead, the PDA requires your employer to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy the same as employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons (42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k))—and this might give you the right to take time off during pregnancy.

For example, if your company lets employees take time off for a temporary disability such as knee surgery, then you must be allowed to take time off when you can't work due to pregnancy.

The Nebraska Fair Employment Practice Act offers similar protection. The law bars covered employers from discriminating against pregnant employees regarding the "terms and conditions of their employment." (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 48-1107.01(2).) So, the state law also requires your employer to give pregnant employees the same leave rights as other employees who need time off for a medical condition.

Pregnancy Leave Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA gives eligible employees in Nebraska the right to take up to 12 weeks off work within a one-year period for pregnancy and parenting leave. But the FMLA doesn't protect every employee. The law applies only to the following employers:

  • private employers with at least 50 employees
  • federal, state, and local governments, and
  • public and private schools (regardless of the number of employees).

And to qualify for FMLA protection, you must have worked for a covered employer for at least a year and at least 1260 hours during the 12 months immediately before your leave.

If you qualify, you can use the FMLA to take time off when you can't work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits.

(Learn more about taking FMLA leave for pregnancy and childbirth.)

Unpaid Maternity and Paternity Leave in Nebraska

Nebraska has no state parenting or family leave law, but the federal FMLA gives eligible employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster. This parental leave is part of your total 12-week FMLA leave entitlement. So, if you use four weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have eight weeks left for parenting leave.

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 parental leave. (29 U.S. Code § 2612(f).) So, if you take eight weeks of parental leave, your spouse could only take four weeks of FMLA leave for parenting. 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.

Part-Time or Reduced Schedule Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA allows employees to take medical or disability-related leave intermittently if it's medically necessary. (29 CFR 825.202.) For example, if you have a prenatal check-up, instead of taking a whole day off, you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave and 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 only use your FMLA parenting leave a little at a time if your employer agrees to it. If your employer agrees to let you take intermittent leave for parenting, you have one year after your new child's arrival to use your 12 weeks of FMLA leave.

Getting Paid During Maternity and Parental Leave in Nebraska

FMLA leave is unpaid, and Nebraska has no paid family leave law or paid short-term disability benefit program. To get paid during your time off, you can ask to use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO)—or your employer might actually require you to use it.

Your employer might offer maternity and paternity leave benefits. You might also have parental benefits or group short-term disability insurance through your job. Talk to your HR representative or manager (and check your employee handbook) to find out what types of leave are available to you.

If it's looking like you won't be able to get paid time off, you might consider buying a private short-term disability policy that covers pregnancy.

Learn what happens when you return to work after FMLA maternity and parental leave.

Updated September 8, 2023

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