Getting Unemployment During & After Maternity Leave

Parents frequently ask about getting unemployment benefits for maternity leave.

Couples often face unpaid time off from work and need a replacement income source to support the household budget stretched by a new mouth to feed and clothe.

The short answer is that you will have to find alternatives to unemployment during maternity leave because you are ineligible while still having a job and are unable or unavailable for work.

However, filing for unemployment after maternity leave becomes possible if you lost your job and are able and available for work – provided you live in a state with a suitable legal definition of “good cause” – or your employer laid you off.

Unemployment During Maternity Leave

Getting unemployment during maternity leave rarely works because you run afoul of at least one of five qualifiers that apply evenly across the country.

  1. Jobless
  2. Able to work
  3. Available for employment
  4. Actively seeking a new post
  5. Willing to accept suitable offers

Government assistance with bill payments might prove more productive while on an unpaid work absence as you need to stretch scarce budget dollars. You could find ways to lower a variety of expenses such as healthcare, nutrition, energy, housing, and transportation.

Pregnancy Leave

Drawing unemployment while on pregnancy leave before your due date because of medical complications is not possible. In addition to still having a job, you are not physically able to work when you relax on a mattress or couch under doctor-ordered bed rest.

  • State short-term disability might cover pregnancy leave if you live in one of the seven regions with mandatory coverage: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, or Washington.
  • Individual short-term disability might also cover pregnancy leave if the coverage began before conception, depending on where you purchased the policy.
    • Sourced outside of employers does not cover pregnancy complications
    • Worksite-based plans typical cover pregnancy issues before due dates

After Childbirth

Filing for unemployment while on maternity leave after having a baby is also not fruitful. In addition to still having a job, you will have periods when you are ineligible because you are unable and unavailable to work.

  • Recovery from labor and delivery means you are unable for six to eight weeks (vaginal birth versus C-section)
  • Bonding with your newborn baby means that you are unavailable until you find full-time daycare
  • Caring for a sick or low birth weight infant also means you are unavailable until your baby’s health stabilizes

Paid family leave is a better alternative than collecting unemployment after having a baby because the benefits replace a portion of income for family caretakers. You might qualify if you live in California, California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, or Washington.

Unemployment after Maternity Leave

After maternity leave ends, getting unemployment benefits is often more feasible when the five main disqualifiers no longer apply.

  1. Jobless
  2. Able to work
  3. Available for employment
  4. Actively seeking a new post
  5. Willing to accept suitable offers

However, your state’s rules about good cause reasons for quitting or job termination can affect your eligibility – unless your employer laid you off.

Good Cause

Only women living in specific states qualify to file for unemployment compensation after maternity leave if they quit or lost their jobs. Each state establishes unique laws defining good cause reasons that apply in two familiar circumstances.

  1. Unavailable to work due to caretaking role
    1. Bonding with a newborn baby
    2. Caring for a premature infant
  2. Unable to work due to pregnancy disability
    1. Medical complications before birth
    2. Recovery from labor and delivery
    3. Postpartum medical disorders

Medical Reason

Drawing unemployment for medical reasons is feasible after maternity leave if your job separation related to your disability and you live in one of fourteen states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Utah.

These fourteen states include an employee’s serious medical condition, disability, or pregnancy to be a good cause reason to quit or face termination.

Caretaking Reason

Filing for unemployment after maternity leave is viable if your job separation is related to a family member’s care with a severe health condition. Also, your odds improve if you live in one of these thirteen states with a good cause reason related to family circumstances.

Bear in mind that bonding with your perfectly healthy newborn baby probably fails the test.

IllinoisMinnesotaNew York
OregonRhode IslandSouth Carolina

Laid Off

Women in all fifty states are eligible to collect unemployment benefits after their maternity leave ends if their employer laid them off. A reduction in force occurs because of a lack of work, cutbacks in production, or reorganization and has nothing to do with your performance or attendance record.

You do not have to establish a good cause reason to qualify after layoffs affecting you and other fellow employees. The job termination had nothing to do with your spotty attendance while on pregnancy bed rest or bonding with your newborn baby.