Utah state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees who are unable to work during pregnancy, which may include the right to take leave from work. And the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits employers in Utah from discriminating against employees because of pregnancy, which may give pregnant employees the right to take time off work, in some cases. For employees who work for larger employers, the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives employees the right to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. (Although some states have their own family leave laws, Utah is not one of them.)
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.
In 2016, the Utah legislature amended the Utah Antidiscrimination Act to require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees. This law applies to private employers with at least 15 employees.
If you request a reasonable accommodation due to your pregnancy, your employer must provide it unless doing so would create undue hardship for the employer (significant cost or burden, considering the employer’s size and resources). For an accommodation other than more frequent breaks to eat, drink, and use the restroom, your employer can require you to provide documentation from your health care provider stating:
In some cases, this law could allow pregnant employees the right to take time off work as an accommodation.
Another law that can help pregnant employees take time off is the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act. While it doesn't require employers to give pregnant employees time off work, 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 short-term disabilities, like recovering from surgery or a car accident, then it must allow pregnant employees to take the same time off when they are unable to work.
The FMLA gives eligible employees in Utah the right to take up to 12 weeks off work per year for pregnancy or parenting leave. The FMLA applies only to employers with at least 50 employees.
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 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.)
Utah does not have a parental leave law, but the FMLA gives employees in Utah the right to take time off to bond with a new child (biological, adopted, or foster). This is part of an employee's annual 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.
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.
The FMLA does not require employees to take pregnancy leave all at once. For example, you don’t need to take a whole day off under the FMLA for your OB-GYN appointments; you can use a couple of hours of your FMLA leave, then go back to work. The same is true for pregnancy-related ailments that might only last a few hours or a few days.
For parental leave, however, the rules are different. 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 of your leave right after the baby is born and some when your partner returns to work—you need to get your employer's permission. If your employer agrees to let you use your parenting leave intermittently, you must finish your time off within one year of the baby being born.
FMLA leave is unpaid, as is any leave you take as a reasonable accommodation. However, you can ask—or your employer could require you—to use your accrued sick days, vacation, or paid time off (PTO) so that you can get paid during your time off.
Your employer might also offer maternity and paternity leave benefits, parental benefits, or short-term group 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.