27 answers

Unpaid Maternity Leave for a First Time Mom

My best friend is due any day with her first child. (At this point, she is 10 days overdue.) She works full time as a hair dresser. She is currently on maternity leave and will be until early december. The problem is, she is not getting paid at all while she is on maternity leave. Her boyfriend can't work at this time because of back problems. Here she is expecting her baby any day and worried that she won't be able to pay the bills. I have never heard of upaid maternity leave. I'm not sure if that is even legal. She says she has looked into it and can't temporarily collect unemployment. At this point, I'm worried for her, she's worried and she's about to go into labor at any time. If I could help her out, I would but unfortunately, having a husband and two toddlers of my own, our monthly bills and christmas around the corner, I don't have much to spare. If anyone can help find a solution here or knows something that I don't, please help! I'd hate to see my friend suffer when she should be in bliss with her baby.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone for all your advice. It has really given me some things to consider and talk with my friend about. We think we have a few options to look into. I am very happy to announce that my friend was induced this afternoon, being ten days overdue at this point. Although the baby's heart rate was dropping with each contraction, small and barely felt ones at that, my friend had an emergency c section and delivered a healthy 7lb. 8oz. baby girl this evening. Thanks again to everyone!

Featured Answers

She can apply for public aid & get emergency food stamps & wic. Being a hairdresser usually is considered self employed, so does she rent a chair? If yes, then she technically wouldn't have an employer to pay her for being on maternity leave, it would have been her job to save money.

Boyfriends back can't be that bad since he got her pregnant. Maybe he can try to find a job that isn't to strenuous so he can contribute monetarily & help his girlfriends stress levels so she can enjoy her new baby & not have to worry about paying bills.

3 moms found this helpful

I am a paramedic and bought a short term disability plan because of pregnancy. My department, nor any that I know of have any type of paid maternity leave. There is no law requiring anyone to pay a person for maternity leave. The laws are designed to safeguard unfair termination of employment due to medical reasons - the Family Medical Leave Act. Unfortunately, she should have saved vacation time etc... Maybe since she is a single person she will qualify for WIC or medicaide or welfare.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

She can apply for public aid & get emergency food stamps & wic. Being a hairdresser usually is considered self employed, so does she rent a chair? If yes, then she technically wouldn't have an employer to pay her for being on maternity leave, it would have been her job to save money.

Boyfriends back can't be that bad since he got her pregnant. Maybe he can try to find a job that isn't to strenuous so he can contribute monetarily & help his girlfriends stress levels so she can enjoy her new baby & not have to worry about paying bills.

3 moms found this helpful

The only pay I received while on my maternity leave was short-term disability for 8 weeks. This is a benefit of my company and I don't think required by law. I supplemented this pay with the Paid Time Off I had earned and saved. The rest of my leave (20 weeks total) was unpaid. We had saved long before I was even pregnant in order to be able to allow me that time off with our child.

This may sound harsh but the boyfriend needs to step up and get a job. Even working at the local gas station would be better than no income at all. If his back is really that problematic he should qualify for disability payments.

The other option will be that your friend will just have to go back to work as soon as possible after the baby's birth. I have friends who had to do this to make ends meet.

2 moms found this helpful

I found a site called http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/glp/11664/Maternit... that basically said: "While no federal law requires [employers] to provide paid maternity leave, most employers must comply with the pregnancy discrimination law and FMLA maternity leave regulations."

It went on to cover 7 guidelines:

1. Not discriminating against already pregnant applicants during the hiring process.
2. If you do not hire a prergnant applicant, be prepared to prove you had a legal justification for not doing so to avoid a charge of discrimination.
3. Provide up to 12 weeks Family Medical Leave (which is not paid) allowing the employee to return to same or SIMILAR position. Exception: Employers with <50 employees to not have to abide by FMLA.
4. A pregnancy is not a disability unless it is accompanied by complications that severely limit major life activities. Only then to accommodations under ADA become an option for the employee.
5. Some states maternity laws are more generous than federal ones. TN and RI and CA were sited.
6. Maternity leave policies...In the 2007 Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 81% of the HR professionals polled said their organizations offer short-term disability benefits. But only 18% said they have a separate, paid maternity leave policy. It’s also up to each employer to decide how many weeks of paid leave to offer. If you decide to adopt a formal maternity/paternity leave policy, make sure it complies with federal and state regulations. Since some state maternity leave laws grant employees more generous leave and may apply to smaller employers than the FMLA, make sure your attorney reviews your policy before you disseminate it to employees.
7. Refer to the EEOC's a series of questions and answers that clear up most of the ambiguities in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

2 moms found this helpful

H.- with my first, I worked in NJ and was able to collect short term disability for 4 weeks prior and 6 weeks after my son was born. With my 2nd, I was working in Pa, and looked into the disability, but PA is different and was not able to collect. I have started working from home- not sure if this is something your friend would be able to do, or be interested in doing, but it is something that I do with a 2 yr old and my 6 month old- so that I can bring in an income. (My income paid the mortgage, so we obviously couldn't live on just 1 for long) Feel free to contact me, or have your friend contact me if you want any help or info on working from home.

1 mom found this helpful

I've not heard of paid maternity leave. She may qualify for state assistance to mother's and children. She would most likely qualify for food stamps and WIC. (women, infants,a snd children) She would apply at her states Department of Human Services.

Her boyfriend can't work at all because of back problems. I find that suspect. Unless he's confined to bed with little ability to move around he can work at something. I recognize it's difficult to find work but has he tried?

My brother has back problems, He also had Hep C and he worked in a sheltered environment set up for him by the Unemployment Office. He was able to sit while he filled boxes to be delivered. Hep C treatment causes serious emotional issues and he was able to obtain counseling thru the VA who helped him change his attitude and begin on a road to success.

Some states have programs in which they will train him to do work that he is able to perform. They pay for the training and provide a subsistence level of income which can be combined with food stamps and WIC. Your friend should call the county office of the state office that administers aide.

I suggest that the baby's father look for work of any kind to help support his child.

1 mom found this helpful

I am a paramedic and bought a short term disability plan because of pregnancy. My department, nor any that I know of have any type of paid maternity leave. There is no law requiring anyone to pay a person for maternity leave. The laws are designed to safeguard unfair termination of employment due to medical reasons - the Family Medical Leave Act. Unfortunately, she should have saved vacation time etc... Maybe since she is a single person she will qualify for WIC or medicaide or welfare.

1 mom found this helpful

Company's are not obligated to pay for maternity leave...if they do, that is great. Does she have leave time that she could use? Does her company have short-term disability? If they have STD then it would apply for maternity leave as well (and she would be eligible as soon as she was out of work not waiting until delivery).

Outside of that, she could apply for temporary assistance.

1 mom found this helpful

I was not paid through my company for my maternity leave. I was paid through the state of California. I believe I got 4 weeks prior to delivery (I was taken off), then I got 6 weeks for maternity, and after that I got an additional 6 weeks for the "Family Bonding Act." The family bonding act can be taken by both parents at any time for the following year after the child is born. I chose to take mine at the end of my maternity, and my boyfriend did not opt to take his.
My company did not pay one dime while I was on maternity, and they also did not pay any employee who took FMLA (Family Medical Leave). All they did, is what was required by the state....hold our positions. Thats it.
I would definately look into your state benefits. Also, I had to go through the unemployment department to get these benefits but it was not unemployment, strictly for maternity. I got all of this paperwork at my doctors office. He has to sign stating she is taken off work, or has just delievered and is unable to work. My company also required him to sign forms so they could hold my position.
She may also want to look into food programs, WIC, etc. Any little bit helps. Some states even offer emergency aid (cash), it never hurts to try. Also have her go on all the diaper websites and sign up, that way she will get coupons, and if she plans on formula feeding, do the same. Also when she goes to her ped for the first visit, ask for samples!
If you want to help, but don't have a lot of the money to do so, try and buy a few extra pantry items and make up a goodie bag for her. You don't have to spend a lot, and look for things that would go a long way. Or you could literally cook things yourself and have her freeze it. Money or no money, in our family everyone brings food over (we like to feed people). I hope she has a great delivery!

1 mom found this helpful

Most employers do not offer paid leave. Mine offers a short term disability program, but I had to pay into that before becoming pregnant in order to collect a small percentage of that while not working. Hate to say this, but she should have saved and planned for this. I guess she will have to get back to work as soon as the money becomes tight.

1 mom found this helpful

The public aid is an amazing way to get her some assistance, but depending on where you are at, they have requirements for families on aid, and I think it is national because of the law passed by clinton in the 90's by clinton about welfare.
Basically, she will get so much foodstamps a month, and so much cash, and medical of course if she needs it. If her and Dad are living together (married or not) they consider it a family unit and they will require one parent to do some requirements for the first year. Usually it's up to 35 hours a week of job search until a job is found. If requirements aren't met, the family can get in trouble and their benefits get cut for 4 months, and then cut off completely. He may need to actually prove he is unable to work..in which case DSHS would require him to start the application for disability.
Wic is a bit different, and based only on mom and baby. They cover baby up to 5th year of life as long as financially necessary, and mom as well as long as she is breastfeeding, or until 6 months postpartum, whichever is longer. It makes a huge difference (especially if formula is chosen to feed the baby).
Good luck to your friend, I remember the days of being home with new baby!!

1 mom found this helpful

This wont help with bills, but she can get on WIC. If she nurses, they'll give her food like bread, milk, cheese. eggs, cereal, etc. if she doesnt nurse they will pay for formula. http://www.pawic.com/

1 mom found this helpful

She should look into her state's disability program. I'm in California, so full time employees can get disability payments for the duration of their medically necessary maternity leave based on their income. My only concern with that is that often hair dressers are considered self employed or independent contractors. In that case, she might not be eligible for the state disability benefits unless she's paid into it herself.
She definitely can't qualify for unemployment because she hasn't been terminated from her job and one of the provisions is that you can't be too sick or injured to work every day. She can't work in her condition or immediately after having the baby.

She should ask her doctor about the state disability program and if she might qualify. The doctor is the one who has to sign a form stating that she can't work. 6 weeks after giving birth is the norm for a birth with no complications

I wish her the best and hope she has a happy delivery and healthy baby.

1 mom found this helpful

Some places in Europe offer as much as a year of paid maternity leave....but the wonderful USA does not.

The only paid time I get for my leave is vacation or sick days I have worked to accrue- and unfortunately I am due next month with our second child, and FMLA won't hold my position because I have not worked the required 1250 hrs inthe past `12 calendar months to qualify. I had to take quite a bit of time off the past year because my Mother was extremely ill and died over the summer. SO - I got a LOA (leave of absence) approved, but I may lose my position within mycompany, although I have a job at the end of my 12 weeks. Meaning- I may have to take a position in a different department or work different shifts/ days etc....

Not sure of PA laws, but WIC and food stamps would be good. Also agree that boyfriend can probably do something that his back issues could tolerate. Your friend could also do some free lance hairstyling from her home to earn some $$ while she is off...that's definately a perk!!

She's lucky to have you caring about her, you are a good friend. Hope you got some useful info.....

Good luck and congrats to her.....btw---why aren't they inducing since she is past 7 days??? She may not want to burn up this time off she has been given- if I were inher shoes I would ask to be induced at this point!!!

1 mom found this helpful

Legally all they have to give you is six weeks maternity leave. If she is getting to be off until December (in this economy especially) they could say she is lucky to be able to take that much time off and still have a job. Some companies have a paid maternity as part of a benefits package, but it is not required by law. If she tries to collect unemployment, they (her job) could make sure she IS unemployed - for good. She should look into extreem couponing to get many of the baby essentials (diapers and wipes especially) for less than half price.

1 mom found this helpful

Maternity leave is the privledge of being able to take up to 8 weeks off without pay and without being fired. You can't collect unemployment because you're still employed, technically, because you're going back to work eventually. It stinks, but it is legal.

Employer's do not owe anything but a paycheck (and to be treated fairly) to their employees. It is not right for her to expect a handout. Not meaning to sound harsh...but everyone else has to save vacation time or money or something to cover this time. The BF needs to step up and contribute. Not all work requires a good back.

I didn't wasn't paid for maternity leave, though I could use my "sick" time off (burned through that in two weeks). I worked for a business in WA that had fewer than 50 employees. Legally, you have to be given 4 weeks off, but the company is not required to pay you during that time.

Your friend can ask the hospital to work out a payment plan for her bills - 50 bucks a month, perhaps, until the debt is cleared. My understanding is this: as long as a person is making a "good faith effort" to pay off a bill, that bill cannot go to collections.

Hi there,
I am in Human resources, so I deal directly with Leave of Abscence and Family medical Leave. It is legal to have unpaid maternity leave. I actually have never heard of having paid maternity leave. You'd have to work for a seriously good company to have that. Unfortunately most companies do not offer that. Maybe the boyfriend should try to collect unemployment. You sometimes can collect unemployment if you have health problems and can prove this through a doctor. Can you friend sign up for state programs to help out until she gets back on her feet? How about WIC programs.

When I had my son, I didn't realize that maternity leave is unpaid... apparently it is and it's only a guarantee that you won't lose your job when you return in the time alloted. I wasn't planning on going back to work anyway so it wasn't a problem for me. When you realize that women aren't being paid to be on leave, you see why so many choose to return sooner than later. Maybe your friend could set up something with her boss where she can work part time until she is ready to go back full time. And also maybe is you and she spread the word around, she could cut hair at her house (but I would keep it a secret from the boss).

It's a shame, but many women fall into the unpaid maternity leave category. Many of them are teachers in the public school system. I'm guessing that your friend's job as a hairdresser falls into the category of "independent contractor" and she is not on the payroll of the salon.
No answers here just an understanding of the situation.

my maternity leave was unpaid. I took 12 weeks and the first was the only paid for b/c it was my vacation time.

I think unpaid mat. leave is more common than paid. I'm a teacher and have had two children in the past 3 years. I took the maximum FMLA time allowed but not a single minute of it was paid. I saved my sick time for a few years before that because...well...without kids there was no need to use all of it so I had at least a couple weeks of income but other than that...zippo. The nice thing about our district though was that they were able to calculate what portion of the year I was going to work so what percentage of my salary I'd earn. Then with my request they took that new amount and divvied it out throughout the year so that I always had a check it was just REALLY small instead of normal checks until my babies came...then nothing. That was at least a little helpful for planning ahead.

Hi H., Your friend is lucky to have someone like you that cares! Unfortunatly the national Family Leave Act does guarentee time...not money! Some companies have paid leave or put you on disability at 60% of your pay. But as far as I know no company is required to pay you while you are on maternity leave at this time. Your friends best option is to go to the welfare office and apply for any and all programs that she qualifies for ASAP!! And if her boyfriend was hurt at work he should be getting workmans comp money...if he isn't he should also apply for welfare or SSD. I don't normally advocate anyone going on welfare, but it is there for folks that need help. And there are a ton of programs out there for single mothers! Good luck!

she can go to a local salvation army to get gas or electric paid and she can ask local churches to help

Unpaid maternity leave is not uncommon. I'm in the engineering field and most companies only offer unpaid leave. She might be able to get some income from short-term disability, but she'll have to look into her company's policy. It's not something that they'll offer you outright usually, you have to look into what you're allowed and call the right people to get disability pay.

Our wonderful country is one of the only country that does not have paid maternity leave. Its nice that some employees do offer it but they don't have to they also only need to give 6 weeks and I believe only if they have certain number of empolyees working for them otherwise they don't even have to hold your job. Wish we lived in Canada where they get are allowed up to a year :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave

Updated

Our wonderful country is one of the only country that does not have paid maternity leave. Its nice that some employees do offer it but they don't have to they also only need to give 6 weeks and I believe only if they have certain number of empolyees working for them otherwise they don't even have to hold your job. Wish we lived in Canada where they get are allowed up to a year :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.