Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in North Dakota

North Dakota requires employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations, though it does not have traditional pregnancy or parenting leave laws.

By , J.D., UC Berkeley School of Law

If you work in North Dakota, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and/or parenting. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which may give you the right to take time off work. And, the North Dakota Human Rights Act requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees while they are still working.

Taking Time Off During Pregnancy in North Dakota

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.

Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

The PDA 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 illnesses or injuries, then it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work.

The North Dakota Human Rights Act, which applies to all employers regardless of size, also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. In addition, the Act also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are pregnant. Reasonable accommodations are changes that will allow you to do your job despite the temporary limitations created by your pregnancy. A reasonable accommodation might include light duty, a restriction on lifting or standing, more breaks, seating, or time off work. An employer does not have to provide an accommodation that:

  • contradicts a business necessity of the employer
  • unduly disrupts or interferes with the normal operations of the employer
  • threatens the health or safety of the employee requesting the accommodation or others, or
  • imposes an undue hardship on the employer, taking into consideration the type of business the employer operates, the employer's financial resources, the employer's size, and the cost and effect of the accommodation.

Family and Medical Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA gives eligible employees in North Dakota the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for serious health conditions including pregnancy. 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.

If you qualify, you can 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. (Learn more about the FMLA, including eligibility requirements, in our article on FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)

The FMLA allows employees to take pregnancy 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 leave, then go back to work.

Although some states have their own family and medical leave laws or pregnancy disability laws that require employers to provide time off during pregnancy, North Dakota is not one of them. In North Dakota, you have a right to pregnancy leave under the federal FMLA only.

Parenting Leave in North Dakota

The FMLA also gives employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child as part of the total 12-week leave entitlement. So, if you use three weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have nine 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 returning to work half-time for a while, or 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.

Note that 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. (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, North Dakota does not.

Getting Paid During Your Time Off

FMLA leave 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.

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