What you should know about the Family Medical Leave Act

by Kaiser Permanente |
Pregnant woman working from home office.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal program that protects your job if you need to take time off after having a baby. You don’t get paid as part of FMLA, but the law makes it possible for you to return to your job.

Unpaid leave

In general, the program allows you to take off up to 6 weeks after a vaginal birth and up to 8 weeks after a Cesarean birth (C-section). Other medical conditions may increase the amount of leave you qualify for.

You’ll probably need to file a lot of paperwork before going on parental leave. The standard turnaround time for paperwork submitted online is between 10 and 14 days, so don’t wait until the last minute. If you file your paperwork by mail, it can take up to 21 days to process.

Other benefits

Most states also offer disability benefits. These benefits could pay a portion of your typical earnings while you’re on leave. Extended sick leave (ESL) benefits can also help cover time off after giving birth.

You may also use your paid time off (PTO) to bring in money while you’re away from work.

Benefits for bonding time

Some states provide bonding time for you and your infant. For instance, California offers Paid Family Leave (PFL) that kicks in after state disability benefits end. It provides 60% of your typical salary for 8 weeks. You can use PFL benefits anytime during the first year after your baby is born.

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.