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Unemployment Benefits During Maternity Leave

Updated : April 1st, 2021

Are you wondering if you can collect unemployment benefits during your maternity leave? Well, you have landed on the right page! Here, we will tell you if you qualify for unemployment benefits during maternity leave and much more.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

You may have heard this term before, or it may be your first time. FMLA lays down rules and acts as the guiding principle for maternity leave and allied benefits. While some employers are legally obligated to provide employees with time off from work for maternity leave, this is not always the case. 

In most states, only those companies that fall under Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guidelines are required to provide leaves related explicitly to becoming a parent or any other kind of illness. You must be aware that both parents are eligible for certain days of leave at the time of pregnancy and post-delivery of the baby. This type of leave is provided during childbirth, adoption, and foster situations.

Unemployment Benefits during Maternity Leave

The drawback about availing leaves during pregnancy is that they are unpaid. Companies in the United States rarely offer compensated maternity leave. This period can be significantly longer, ranging from 12 weeks up to a year or even more, if you decide to devote more time to the child’s upbringing.

The Critical Time

It can be quite a challenge to lead life during this time, especially if you were dependent on your job to meet financial obligations, wholly or partly. You may look forward to various state-sponsored schemes such as the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that offers weekly monetary compensation for the unemployed through no fault of their own and are able to and available for work. But then, are you really unemployed? Isn’t this just an interim period? Remember, you’re still on the payrolls of your employer. 

Your physician may advise you to take time off from your work and rest completely during your pregnancy. In such cases, you will not qualify to receive unemployment compensation since you are unable to and unavailable for work—which is the important eligibility requirement to qualify for UI benefits. 

You need not be devastated if you don’t qualify for unemployment benefits during maternity leave, as you may qualify for disability benefits (only if the program is available in your state).

Short Term Disability Insurance

Many companies, as an option or under legal obligation, may offer you disability benefits. Short-Term Disability (STD) insurance plans provide income protection for the time period you could not work due to childbirth. If you are enrolled in your company’s STD insurance plan, you can apply for benefits when you are off from work due to pregnancy. While these policies don’t provide 100% income coverage, the funds they do provide can be helpful. Also, note that the program does not start until you have been unable to work for a few weeks. 

You can also learn more about additional benefits available in your state that are specific in nature. Speak to your supervisor or the H.R representative well in advance to make the best use of available schemes and welfare offered by both the federal or state government and employer before you start the maternity leave. Feel free to discuss more on this topic at our unemployment community forum.

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