Financial help during maternity leave

The company I work for has unpaid maternity leave up to 12 weeks. Is there any supplement help within the State of Ohio (temporary disability, ect). I would like to take advantage of spending the time with my newborn, but my husband and I cannot afford the unpaid time. Is there anything out there? Thank you for your time.

1 answer  |  asked Feb 18, 2004 10:06 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Ann Lugbill
Financial Help during leave

Obtaining state benefits for maternity leave is outside the scope of employment laws. However, I am not aware of any such program to pay mothers who have newborns, like the kind common in Europe, where new mothers receive a government stipend. You can contact the local office of the Jobs & Family Services offices to see if you qualify for any assistance, including day care assistance.

However, what you may want to explore, is whether you can: "extend" your FMLA leave (which is likely the unpaid maternity leave you refer to) or also take FMLA leave and/or disability leave IN ADDITION to the unpaid maternity leave.

First, you are entitled to any disability leave provided to male employees--if males are paid, you should be too, during the period of time (usually 4-6 weeks) beginning with childbirth and thereafter, when your physician does not approve you working.

FMLA leave is available to employees of employers with 50 or more employees and who have worked for the employer for at least 1200 hours in the preceding year. The way to extend your FMLA leave would be to take "intermittent leave," that is go back to work earlier, but work a reduced schedule, allowing you a longer time with your baby until you go back to work full-time when your leave is exhausted. You could take intermittent leave until you have taken the equivalent of 12 weeks of full-time leave. If your husband was also able to take some FMLA leave, you might be able to work it out so that one or the other of you is home with the baby for an extended period of time, especially if you were able to combine this with a few babysitter hours here and there (the kinds that grandmothers, friends, and relatives can provide).

Be sure, however, not to use up all of your leave time and to save some for future doctors visits and other medical needs of an infant.

You may also want to go over your finances with a trusted advisor and determine if there are job-related expenses that you will not have if you are not working (transportation, drycleaning, clothing, gas, insurance for second car, lunches, eating out at fast-food places and restaurants, child care expenses, income taxes, etc.) and that might enable you to stay home with your child--particularly if you suppemented your income with some part-time work, babysitting another infant, etc. There are usually local child-care agencies that will help you think through your options if you want to consider child-care as an alternate source of income.

Finally, some employers will make arrangements that might allow you to bring your child to work while very young, work part-time or from home for an extended period, etc. Alternatively, you could look for another job that offers more flexibility in scheduling, where your work 30-35 hours (not 40), etc.

Quality, reliable childcare for a young infant can be very expensive. You may find that the unpaid leave will save you a lot in child care expenses, not to mention making your life with a new baby not so hectic.

I hope that you are able to spend as much time with your child as you want. Please consider all of your options in making these important family plans.

Unfortunately, our American laws do not support families in the most needed ways that we might wish. European countries are far ahead of us. Improvements are being made, but there is a long way to go.

posted by Ann Lugbill  |  Feb 18, 2004 11:52 AM [EST]

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