Maternity and Parental Leave Laws in Ohio

Ohio's Civil Rights Act provides unpaid pregnancy leave, and the FMLA provides pregnancy and parenting leave.

By , J.D. · UC Berkeley School of Law

Do you live in Ohio and need time off work for pregnancy, childbirth, or parenting? The Ohio Civil Rights Act gives employees the right to take a reasonable amount of leave for pregnancy and childbirth. (Ohio Rev. Code § 4112.01.) The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also gives you the right to take unpaid leave when you're having or adopting a baby.

In addition, 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 in some cases. And the federal Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) strengthens the protections of the PDA.

Taking Time Off During Pregnancy in Ohio

There are two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave:

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

Pregnancy Leave Under the Ohio Civil Rights Act

The Ohio Civil Rights Act, which applies to all employers with four or more employees, prohibits discrimination based on sex and pregnancy. The regulation prohibits employers from penalizing employees because they need time off work for pregnancy or childbirth (Ohio Admin. Code 4112-5-05(G)).

Under the Act, if your employer has a leave policy, you must be given a reasonable amount of leave for childbearing—as long as you meet the policy's qualification requirements. For example, the policy might say you must have worked for the company for at least six months before being able to take leave.

If an employer doesn't have a leave policy, employees who need time off for childbirth must be given a reasonable period of leave for pregnancy and birth, with reinstatement to their job when their leave is through. (The law doesn't define how much time is "reasonable.")

Ohio state law doesn't provide for paid maternity or paternity leave.

Pregnancy Leave Under the Family and Medical Leave Act

The FMLA, which applies only to employers with at least 50 employees, gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks off work in a one-year period for pregnancy. You're eligible for FMLA leave if you've 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. (Learn more about using FMLA leave for pregnancy and disability.)

Time Off Under Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Laws

Two federal discrimination laws might give you the right to take time off due to pregnancy or childbirth:

Both laws apply to employers with 15 or more employees.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work. But it does require your employer to treat employees who can't work due to pregnancy the same as other employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons, such as an extended illness or injuries from a car accident.

And the Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need them due to pregnancy, childbirth, and related conditions. Under this law, reasonable accommodations can include time off work.

Taking Parenting Leave in Ohio

Although some states have their own parental leave laws, Ohio isn't one of them.

But the FMLA gives employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child. You can use FMLA leave whether your new child is:

  • biological,
  • adopted, or
  • fostered.

And FMLA parental leave is available to all new parents—not just new mothers (leave for fathers is often called "paternity leave"). Any maternity or paternity leave you take would be part of your total 12-week FMLA leave entitlement, so if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you'll have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave.

If you're married to someone who works for the same company, your employer can require you to share the 12 weeks of FMLA parental 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.

(Learn about the notice required before you take FMLA parental leave.)

Getting Paid During Maternity or Parental Leave

Leave under the Ohio Civil Rights Act and FMLA leave is unpaid. But you can ask your employer to use your accrued paid leave (like sick days, vacation, or PTO) to get paid during your time off. And your employer can actually require you to use this accrued paid time off during your FMLA leave.

Your employer might 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.

If your employer doesn't offer it as a benefit, learn how to get short-term disability insurance for pregnancy.

Updated July 26, 2023

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