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. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also gives you the right to take unpaid leave for these reasons. In addition, 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 two types of laws that might protect you if you need pregnancy leave: laws that require pregnancy leave and laws prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.
The Ohio Civil Rights Act, which applies to all employers with four or more employees, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy. The regulations interpreting this law (contained in the Ohio Administrative Code) prohibit employers from penalizing employees because they need time off work for pregnancy or childbirth.
If an employer has its own leave policy, employees who need time off for pregnancy and childbirth must be given a reasonable amount of leave for childbearing, as long as they meet the policy’s qualification requirements (for example, that they must have worked for the company for at least six months). If an employer does not 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.”)
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. 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 may use the FMLA to take time off when you are unable to work because of your pregnancy and childbirth. You may 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 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 other employees who are temporarily disabled for other reasons, such as an extended illness or injuries from a car accident.
The FMLA also gives employees the right to take time off to bond with a new child. This is part of your total 12-week leave entitlement, so, if you use two weeks of FMLA leave during your pregnancy, you will have ten weeks left to use for parenting leave. Although some states have their own parental leave laws, Ohio does not.
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. 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.
FMLA leave and leave under the Ohio Civil Rights Act 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 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.