New Hampshire's Law Against Discrimination requires employers to allow employees to take time off while they are unable to work due to pregnancy and childbirth, although it doesn't provide for parenting leave. But the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for parenting as well as for pregnancy and childbirth. And 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 a mix of federal and state laws that might protect you if you need to take time off during your pregnancy.
New Hampshire's Law Against Discrimination requires employers with at least six employees to provide pregnancy disability leave to all employees. An employee who is temporarily unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions, may take time off for as long as she is disabled. When she is able to return to work, the employee must be restored to the same position or a comparable one, unless this is impossible or unreasonable for the employer due to business necessity.
The PDA does not require employers to give pregnant employees time off work, but it requires 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 an employee take time off for a serious illness or injury, it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work.
The FMLA gives eligible employees in New Hampshire the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for serious health conditions and parenting leave (among other things). The FMLA 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.
Pregnancy is considered a serious health condition under the law. 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 can also take FMLA leave for prenatal care, including routine check-ups and doctor visits. You can use a few of hours of your leave at a time if necessary; for instance, if you have morning sickness that lives up to its name, you might need a few hours off in the morning, but be able to go to work by lunchtime.
New Hampshire state law does not require employers to provide parenting leave, but the FMLA gives employees in New Hampshire the right to take time off to bond with a new child, whether biological, adopted, or foster. This is part of the 12-week leave under the FMLA. So, if you use seven weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have five weeks left to use for parenting leave.
If you want to use your parenting leave under the FMLA a little at a time – for example, by taking some of your leave when the baby is born and some at a later point when your partner returns to work – your employer must agree to it. But 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. Whatever portion of your 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.
FMLA leave and pregnancy leave under New Hampshire's Law Against Discrimination is unpaid. However, you can ask – or your employer may require you – to use your accrued sick days, vacation, or PTO so that you can 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.