Do You Get Paid While on FMLA For Maternity and Parental Leave In Ohio?

Aug 18, 2022
By Peter Friedmann

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal-level act that entitles all eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. This is left that protects your job while you are on leave and can be used for both medical and family-specific reasons.  An employer can choose to pay you while you are on FMLA leave but is not legally required to.  Additionally, an employer can make you use your PTO/sick/vacation time while you are on FMLA leave and it can run that concurrently with your FMLA leave, meaning you can be required to use both at the same time.

When you take FMLA leave, your health insurance will remain the same as it was prior to your leave.  You do not lose medical benefits just because you are on FMLA leave. If you work for a qualifying employer and you are eligible for FMLA leave, you can take FMLA leave for the birth of a child and/or for the adoption/foster care placement of a child in your care.

For individuals looking to take maternity or parental leave under FMLA, we explore a few questions regarding paid maternity and parental leave under the FMLA, below.

Do You Get Paid While on FMLA For Maternity or Parental Leave in Ohio?

An employer is NOT legally required to pay you while on FMLA leave.  That said, some employers choose to pay employees that are on FMLA leave.  Additionally, as stated above, an employer can make you exhaust your PTO/sick/vacation time in order to be paid while on leave.  If that PTO/sick/vacation time runs out while you are on FMLA leave, you do not need to be paid for the portion of the leave during which you no longer have available PTO/sick/vacation time left.  Therefore, you could end up being paid for part of the FMLA leave but not all of it.

As per the FMLA website, the 12 weeks of unpaid leave can be applied to a number of situations including maternity or parental leave. Some of these situations include:

  • The birth of a child
  • To care for an employee’s child, spouse, or parent who has a serious health condition
  • The adoption of or placement of a foster care child with the employee

The FMLA also serves as protected leave which allows an employee to return to their position or an equivalent job once they return from leave.  It does not protect you from termination completely – it only protects you from termination that is based, at least in part, on your FMLA leave.  This means that an employer cannot fire you for utilizing FMLA leave.  However, if you do something that warrants termination, like violate a policy or the employer discovers that you had a lot of performance issues prior to your FMLA leave, you can be terminated for that.  In sum, you just cannot be terminated for using FMLA leave and an employer cannot take FMLA leave or FMLA related absences into consideration when terminating employment.

Technically, the FMLA provides for 12 weeks of unpaid leave for the birth of a child and/or the placement of a child related to adoption/fostering.

An employee can choose to use accrued paid vacation time off, paid sick leave, or paid family leave for a chunk of or the entirety of the FMLA leave period. Your employer can require you to use PTO/sick/vacation time while on FMLA leave – it may not be optional.

For more on the differences between FMLA leave, paid time off, and sick leave, see the Department of Labor’s breakdown.

How Does FMLA Work in Ohio for Maternity and Parental Leave? Taking FMLA maternity leave is pretty straightforward.  Taking parental leave under the FMLA leave is also pretty straightforward.

There is a difference between “foreseeable” leave and more emergent, sudden need for FMLA leave.  For foreseeable leave (if you know you are going to welcome a child around July 1 for instance), you are required to provide thirty (30) days’ notice to the employer of your need for the leave.  If you know you are going to have surgery 45 days from now, you should notify your employer as soon as you can that you’ll need FMLA leave.

A lot of people utilize FMLA leave for unexpected medical issues as well.  In those instances, providing thirty days’ notice of the need for leave may not be possible.  In that case, you need to provide notice to the employer as soon as practicable.  For instance, if you have an unexpected medical issue related to your pregnancy, notify the employer as soon as possible of the need for leave.

Keep in mind that you can take intermittent FMLA leave if needed and your employer cannot force you to use all your leave at once. This might mean taking leave off in chunks of time or using it occasionally for things such as appointments or prenatal care.  Both continuous and intermittent FMLA leave is available for individuals that qualify.

Your employer might ask for a doctor’s note or some kind of documentation that can substantiate your need for FMLA maternity leave. These forms are called “FMLA certification forms” and your employer is allowed to ask for them.  You must provide them in a timely manner.

Once your paperwork has been submitted and you have been able to prove that you fall into one of the approved categories for FMLA leave, you should receive approval.

If you have questions regarding the best way to approach your FMLA leave, reach out to us here at The Friedmann Firm, LLC today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Cleveland FMLA attorneys!

How Can I Get Paid While on Maternity or Parental Leave?

The other option for getting paid while you take maternity leave will be to see if your employer provides paid maternity leave. Employers are not generally required to offer this in Ohio but some do.

In research conducted by SHRM in 2020, they found that 55% of employers offered paid maternity leave. If you are unaware of a paid maternity leave policy, it can be helpful to double-check your employee guidelines or handbook.  You can also inquire with Human Resources or leadership.

Connect with a Cleveland FMLA Attorney for FMLA Leave Assistance

If you are looking for help in filling out FMLA paperwork or if you believe you are facing retaliation for requesting FMLA leave, don’t hesitate to contact our team! We represent employees throughout Ohio and across a range of industries.

We will provide you with legal advice, education, and representation as needed.

You can reach out to our Cleveland office over the phone at 440-703-8550 or online to schedule a free, confidential consultation.