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Frequently Asked Questions about Maternity Leave/Leave for Childbirth or Adoption

  1. What is Maternity Leave?
    There is no Maternity leave, per se. The general description of maternity leave is that it is sick leave, which may be extended by annual leave and/or leave without pay (LWOP), for purposes related to childbirth or the adoption of a child.
  2. How is leave used for maternity purposes?
    Leave for doctor's appointments prior to childbirth, illness prior to childbirth, childbirth and postnatal recovery are all appropriate for use of sick leave for the birth mother. The time period of incapacitation must be supported by a physician's certificate. Sick leave generally is not appropriate once the period of incapacitation is over, however, annual leave, or LWOP may be granted for additional time before or after the period of incapacitation. The birth father may use a total of up to 12 weeks of accrued sick leave each year during the period of the birth mother's incapacitation as a result of pregnancy and childbirth. This includes prenatal and postnatal doctor's examinations, hospitalization, and recovery from childbirth. In most cases, however, the birth mother's period of incapacitation will be less than 12 weeks (generally 6 weeks).

    Both parents may use up to 12 weeks of sick leave each year for a child with a serious health condition. Both parents may use up to 13 days of that 12-week period to care for a child with a minor illness or to accompany a child to a medical, dental, or optical appointment. The supervisor may request acceptable evidence of a child's illness or treatment. Parents may not use sick leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy child.

    A mother may use accrued annual leave for pregnancy and childbirth, a father may use accrued annual leave to care for the mother during pregnancy and childbirth, and both parents may use accrued annual leave to be absent from work to bond with or care for a healthy newborn. If annual leave is requested, the normal rules for granting leave apply.
  3. May advanced annual or sick leave be granted for maternity purposes?
    Yes. Employees may be advanced sick leave and also advanced annual leave as a substitute for sick leave. Annual leave may be advanced up to the amount which is expected to be accrued by the end of the leave year. A full-time employee who has completed a probationary or trial period may be advanced up to 240 hours (30 days) of sick leave. Supervisors are advised not to advance sick leave in excess of 104 hours (13 days) to probationary employees. Subsequent advances of sick leave cannot cause the employee's balance to exceed 240 hours. Part-time employees are advanced sick leave on a pro-rated basis. Temporary employees may be advanced annual and/or sick leave up to the amount which they will accrue by the end of their temporary employment. Advanced sick leave may not be granted to employees who are not returning to duty. (NOTE: If advanced leave is not liquidated by subsequent accruals or a cash payment, upon separation the employee must either refund the amount paid for the period representing the indebtedness or have that amount deducted from any pay due the employee).
  4. What regulations exist for use of leave without pay for maternity purposes?
    LWOP is a temporary absence from duty which, in maternity cases, is usually an extension of sick leave. Normally, an employee is required to exhaust accrued annual leave prior to being placed on LWOP for maternity purposes but the final decision is made by your supervisor.
  5. How does the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) affect the use of leave for maternity purposes?
    Under the provisions of the FMLA, employees are entitled to take up to12 work weeks of LWOP that must be used within 12 months after the birth of a child, to care for a newborn, or because of the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. An employee who wants to take unpaid leave for the birth and care of a child under the FMLA must request the leave 30 days in advance. Both mother and father are eligible to take leave under this provision. Annual and/or sick leave may be substituted for LWOP. If annual or sick leave is requested, the normal rules for granting leave apply.
  6. Can a biological mother or father use 12 weeks of sick leave to care for a healthy newborn?
    By law, an employee may use sick leave only for periods of sickness and other incapacitation or for purposes related to the adoption of a child. There is no authority to permit employees to use sick leave for purposes other than those permitted by law. As outlined above, a mother and/or father may use annual leave to care for a healthy newborn. LWOP may also be used for this purpose. If annual leave or LWOP is requested, the normal rules for granting leave apply.

  7. Are additional amounts of leave available under the DOC Leave Transfer Program?
    Yes, an employee who exhausts his or her paid leave may apply to receive donated annual leave. To be eligible, an employee's unpaid absence or anticipated unpaid absence must be at least 24 work hours in duration. Donated annual leave may be used only for a medical emergency, e.g., the mother's period of incapacitation or the illness of a child and may not be used to care for a healthy child.

Page last edited: April 14, 2014

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