Florida Maternity Leave: How Long It Lasts, Is It Paid?

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law governing how maternity and paternity leave work in Florida during an extended absence.

However, FMLA applies to only about 56% of parents. Plus, the Sunshine State does not have a sister regulation extending the time or expanding the eligibility, nor does it require wage replacement benefits.

Therefore, everyone’s experience will be different.

Some parents will enjoy weeks of paid time off, while most get nothing. Some can take twelve months to bond with their newborn baby, while most will have to return to work much sooner.

Find out where you might stand.

Paid Leave in FL

Whether maternity leave is paid in Florida depends on where you work, the policies of your employer, and the choices made before getting pregnant, as the Sunshine State does not require this benefit.

Voluntary Paid Leave

Many establishments offer paid parental leave voluntarily to attract and retain a competitive workforce or in response to pressure from unions. Other employers allow women to purchase short-term disability at work.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance is the primary vehicle offering paid maternity leave to mothers. Women who purchase this private insurance policy before conception can file a claim for multiple reasons.

  • Pregnancy complications that prevent her from working before her due date
  • Recovery from labor and delivery during childbirth (6 to 8 weeks)
  • Postpartum medical disorders that delay her return to work

Short-term disability in Florida is not mandatory across the state. It is voluntary. You have to sign up in advance to file a claim for benefits. Unfortunately, many women overlook this requirement and miss out.

State Employees

Mothers working for the Florida State Government have voluntary paid maternity leave available through short-term disability. The state does not continue compensation during parental time off, but private insurance policies can fill the gap.

Sign up for supplemental short-term disability through the Department of Management Services during open enrollment. Of course, the coverage must start before conception if you want benefits for pregnancy leave before birth, recovery from labor and delivery, and postpartum medical complications.

Union Representation

Other Florida parents have paid maternity leave through the collective bargaining process. Unions in county governments and large private employers might negotiate the lucrative benefit, as evidenced by this sample listing.

Check your employer’s handbook to see what they offer.

Mandatory Paid Leave

The federal government mandates paid maternity leave for its civilian employees nationwide, many of whom work in Florida. Eligible workers receive 100% of their income for up to eight weeks.

The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act covers workers with twelve months of service, logging at least 1,250 hours in connection with a child’s birth or placement (for adoption or foster care).

Florida parents working for federal entities such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Postal Service (USPS), Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and many others often qualify.

Collecting Unemployment

You cannot get unemployment while on maternity leave in Florida because you still have a job and violate at least one of three universal criteria.

  1. Physically able to work
  2. Available for employment
  3. Actively seeking a new job

In other words, unemployment benefits are a poor substitute for paid time off to bond with your baby. However, you might be eligible to file a claim in the future if you lose your job for a good cause reason.

Florida Statute 443.101 states that a good cause reason to quit includes “the individual’s illness or disability requiring separation from his or her work.” Of course, you must be able and available for work to qualify.

FL Maternity Leave Length

The answer to how long maternity leave is in Florida has no single correct response because the state does not have a uniform law for everyone.

  • Roughly 56% of parents qualify for the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which provides twelve weeks of unpaid time off.
  • Employers sometimes offer more unpaid time off than required by law, meaning the policies could provide zero to fifty-two weeks.

Unknown Weeks

56% of parents do not qualify for FMLA legal job protections. Their answer to how long maternity leave lasts in Florida is written in their employee handbook – if their job publishes one.

The parents with no legal rights under FMLA do not work for a covered employer or are not eligible employees.

  • Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees
  • Self-employed individuals and 1099 gig workers
  • Part-time workers logging under 1,250 hours annually
  • Newly hired employees with less than 12 months on the job
  • Satellite or work-at-home employees in remote locations

Twelve Weeks

Florida maternity leave lasts twelve weeks for the other half of parents qualifying for FMLA legal job protections. The federal government codifies their legal rights.

The parents with twelve weeks of legal rights under FMLA work for a covered employer and are eligible employees.

  • The employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius
  • Workers at any public agency (federal, state, county, city)
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school teachers

Six Months

Maternity leave in Florida lasts up to six months for parents working in the state government. Of course, these public servants must have enough money socked away to make this work because the time off is unpaid.

Per Statute 110.211, the state shall not refuse to grant a career service employee parental or family medical leave without pay for a period not exceeding six months.

Twelve Months

Maternity leave can last up to twelve months for many parents working in the Miami-Dade County government or school system. Once again, the job-protected time will be unpaid, and you must fund 100% of health insurance premiums.

Other employers might offer up to twelve months of job protection in addition to these two related entities.

  1. Miami-Dade County government
  2. Miami-Dade County school system

Paternity Leave in Florida

Finally, we can address how paternity leave in Florida works by taking the concepts and laws noted above and applying them to fathers. In general, everything follows the same pattern with one notable exception.

How Long

The answer to how long paternity leave lasts in Florida follows the same logic noted earlier. Fathers could have zero, twelve, or twenty-six weeks of legal job protection.

  • Unknown: Fathers not covered under FMLA
  • 12: Dads covered by the federal FMLA
  • 26: Fathers working in the Florida State government
  • 52: Dads employed by Miami-Dade County schools or government

Is it Paid

The answer to whether paternity leave in Florida is paid follows the same pattern with one notable exception. Fathers cannot use short-term disability.

  • Dads who are union members could get paid time off
  • Fathers working for a federal agency have eight weeks

You cannot use short-term disability for paternity leave because Dad remains physically able to perform his job duties. The insurance does not cover the care of family members or baby bonding time.