Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in North Dakota

North Dakota requires employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations, which can include time off, though the state doesn’t have traditional pregnancy or parenting leave laws.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law
Updated by Bethany K. Laurence, Attorney · UC Law San Francisco
Updated 5/03/2024

If you work in North Dakota, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives you the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy and childbirth, as well as time off to bond with your new child. And the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy, which might give you the right to take time off work.

The federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees, including time off work when necessary. And a state law, the North Dakota Human Rights Act, also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees while they're still working.

Here's what you need to know about your protections under the maternity and paternity leave laws in North Dakota.

Taking Time Off During Pregnancy in North Dakota

The two types of laws in North Dakota might protect you if you need pregnancy leave are:

  • laws that ban pregnancy discrimination, and
  • laws that require pregnancy leave.

Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Laws That Apply in North Dakota

Two federal laws protect the rights of pregnant employees who work for covered employers (those with at least 15 employees):

  • the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), and
  • the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) of 2023.

The PDA doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. Instead, it amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to require employers to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy or childbirth the same as other employees temporarily disabled for other reasons. (42 U.S.C. § 2000e(k).)

The law applies to benefits like time off. For example, if your company lets employees take time off for illnesses or injuries—like heart attacks or broken bones—then you must be allowed to take the same leave when you can't work because of pregnancy.

The PWFA does give you the right to take time off work for pregnancy when it's medically necessary. The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations when an employee needs them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. (42 U.S.C. § 2000gg.) Under this law, reasonable accommodations can include time off work.

State Pregnancy Discrimination Laws in North Dakota

The North Dakota Human Rights Act, which applies to all employers, regardless of size, also prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy. The state law also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. (N.D. Cent. Code § 14-02.4-03.2.)

Reasonable accommodations are changes that will allow you to do your job despite the temporary limitations created by your pregnancy, such as:

  • assigning you to light duty
  • a restriction on lifting or standing
  • allowing you to take more breaks
  • sitting while you do your job (even if you usually stand), or
  • allowing you to take time off work.

But the law doesn't require your employer to provide an accommodation that:

  • contradicts a business necessity of the employer
  • unduly interferes with the normal operations of the employer, or
  • imposes an undue hardship on the employer, considering the following:
    • the type of business the employer operates
    • the employer's financial resources
    • the employer's size, and
    • the cost and effect of the accommodation.

(Learn when you might also be entitled to workplace accommodations for pregnancy under the Americans with Disabilities Act.)

North Dakota Family and Medical Leave Under the FMLA

The FMLA requires employers to allow pregnancy leave, but it applies only to companies with at least 50 employees. This federal law 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.

To be eligible for pregnancy leave under the FMLA, you must have worked for a covered employer for:

  • at least 12 months, and
  • at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding 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.

The FMLA also allows you 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. Instead, you can use a couple of hours of FMLA leave and then return to work.

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

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 12-week leave entitlement. (29 C.F.R § 825.120.) So, if you use three weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have nine weeks left to use for parenting leave.

What if you want to use your FMLA parenting leave a little at a time—for example, by returning to work half-time for a while or by taking some leave when the baby is born and then taking some after your partner returns to work? It's allowed under the FMLA, but only if your employer agrees.

Note that if you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can limit your combined FMLA leave for parenting to 12 weeks—meaning you and your spouse must share the 12 weeks. (This rule doesn't apply to unmarried couples.)

For instance, if you take eight weeks of parenting leave when your baby is born, your spouse can only take four weeks of parenting leave. 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.

Although some states have their own family and medical leave laws that require employers to provide time off when you have a baby, North Dakota isn't one of them. Only the FMLA allows you to take maternity and paternity leave in North Dakota.

Getting Paid During Your Time Off

FMLA leave is unpaid, as is any time you take off under the pregnancy discrimination laws. But you can use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off when you have a baby. Your employer might actually require you to use accrued paid leave when you take time off under the FMLA.

If you can't take unpaid leave, you could buy a private short-term disability insurance policy that covers pregnancy and childbirth. But you'll need to do that before you become pregnant, because many policies won't cover pre-existing conditions.

Your employer might offer benefits that allow you to be paid during your leave, including:

  • company maternity and paternity leave benefits
  • company 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.

(Learn more about how employer-sponsored short-term disability insurance works.)

Talk to a Disability Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
Boost Your Chance of Being Approved

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Our experts have helped thousands like you get cash benefits.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you