Florida maternity and family medical leave of absence laws are confusing and inadequate.

The statutes affect different parents in unique ways. Some enjoy extensive job rights, while others have nothing.

One entitlement is woefully lacking for most Florida workers – paid maternity or family medical leave benefits!

Discover if you qualify for 12 weeks of unpaid job-protections. Find alternatives to make up for the lost income. Follow this four-part outline.

  1. Financial assistance options for unpaid time away from work
  2. Labor laws protecting women’s rights during pregnancy
  3. Maternity leave laws as of 2017 – paperwork & eligibility
  4. Application to fathers, small businesses, teachers, and state employees

Florida Paid Maternity Leave Benefits – How Much

Florida maternity leave monetary benefits are very sparse. Most people do not receive income replacement help. The state does not require employers to offer paid maternity or family leave.

However, this does not mean paid maternity or family benefits are completely unavailable. Companies are free to offer these entitlements and in many cases, parents can take matters into their own hands.

Private Financial Assistance

Request a maternity leave loan here. This option works better for families earning above 200% of the federal poverty rate and who have too many resources (more than $2,000 in countable assets) to qualify for the Florida temporary cash assistance program.

If approved, the lender can provide your family with a cushion of cash to spend while bonding with your baby. This opportunity vanishes in the blink of an eye. The extra money can help you stay current on regular bills while not working.

Do not borrow money unless you are certain you can and will return to work. You must repay the loan with interest using monthly payments.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability can cover maternity leave in Florida. However, the state does not mandate this program. Individuals must purchase a private policy prior to conception in order to qualify.

When purchased at work prior to conception, the policy pays a six-week payment for normal vaginal delivery and an eight-week payment for C-section birth.

Policies bought outside of the workplace do not cover mom’s maternity leave (recovery from normal labor and delivery). However, the more convenient plan type may cover her pregnancy complications (if she must stop working prior to her due date).

Unemployment Benefits

Collecting unemployment during maternity leave is not viable in Florida. The state government based entitlement program offers monetary support to residents who are physically able and available to work. In addition, any parent who voluntarily quits work in order to care for a baby at home is ineligible for benefits.

Other states have adopted a more lenient standard for quitting due to a good cause. However, as of April 2017, Florida has not adopted these “modernized” good cause rules. Parents remain ineligible even if they quit to care for a sick family member.

Pregnant women who are part of a layoff may be eligible to collect unemployment benefits. She must be physically able to work, and actively seeking a new job.

Temporary Cash Assistance

The Florida Temporary Cash Assistance program helps families with children under the age of 18, pregnant women in their 9th month, and expectant women in their 3rd trimester who are unable to work.1

This state-based government entitlement is available to women meeting technical, income, and asset requirements.

  1. Technical – applicants are subject to a 24-month time limit and must meet certain work rules.
  2. Income – gross income must be below 185% of the federal poverty level for a given family size.
  3. Assets – countable resources must not exceed $2,000.

Florida Labor Laws During Pregnancy

Florida has few labor laws conferring additional workplace rights to women during pregnancy. Most of the regulations that apply are federal level statutes, which have employee size and hours worked criteria.

The Florida Civil Rights Act and the Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Family Medical Leave Act each confer special workplace rights.

Civil Rights Act

The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) prohibits pregnancy-based discrimination in the workplace and in places of public accommodation.2 The FCRA applies to businesses with more than fifteen employees – as does its federal counterpart.

The FCRA does not cap compensatory damages, making it more appealing for claimants to sue in the state rather than federal court. Its federal counterpart does impose caps on compensatory damages.

Companies should make best efforts to ensure that their policies do not discriminate based on gender, which includes pregnancy. They should train managers and supervisors on appropriate policies and procedures and offer an avenue for affected individuals to file a complaint.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) also applies to Florida workers. The PDA applies to employers with more than fifteen employees and offers five basic rights to expectant women in the workplace.

  1. PDA outlaws discrimination in hiring, performance evaluations, career development, the taking of leave, etc.
  2. Accommodation for pregnant women, which may include work reassignments or light duty consistent with any other worker
  3. Modified work schedules or flexible arrangements consistent with other workers.
  4. Reasonable break time to allow breastfeeding or expressing of milk

Pregnancy Disability Leave

The Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offers unpaid job-protection rights for Florida women needing to take a pregnancy disability leave. Twenty-five percent of expectant women experience one or more medical complications. Her condition may stop her from working weeks or months before her due date.

FMLA has two significant limitations during pregnancy disability leave.

  1. The maximum length is 12 weeks of pregnancy disability leave during a twelve-month period.
    1. A woman who stops working in her first trimester could exhaust her time before birth.
    2. The weeks taken before birth takes away from her baby bonding time
  2. Not all women qualify for pregnancy disability leave job rights
    1. Women working at employers with less than 50 employees are ineligible
    2. Those with a new employer less than 12 months are ineligible
    3. Women working less than 1,250 hours in a year for the same employer are ineligible

Florida Maternity Leave Laws 2017 – How Long

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary Florida maternity leave law as of April 2017. Most people view this as the time when mom and dad stop working to care for a newborn baby. Therefore, we will focus on that aspect in this section.

The time off will be unpaid for most employees – unless the employer voluntarily offers income replacement as an employee benefit. Many new parents require financial help to make ends meet.

Here we can examine the FMLA for maternity leave paperwork and eligibility associated with baby bonding time.

FMLA Bonding Time

The Family Medical Leave Act allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for Florida parents who want to spend time bonding with a new child. This applies equally to both fathers and mothers.

However, mothers who must stop working prior to childbirth enjoy less baby bonding time. For example, any time used before her delivery draws from her total of 12 weeks.

FMLA covers parents or up to 12 weeks in these specific circumstances.

  1. Taking care of your newly born infant
  2. Placing an adoptive or foster child in your home
  3. Providing care to a close family member (such as your parent, child, or spouse) with a significant medical problem
  4. Baby bonding time

FMLA Paperwork

Florida parents taking maternity leave should notify their employers as early as possible before applying for FMLA. The most important paperwork is the written document providing this notice. If you are expecting a baby, you have nine months to take this step – no excuses!

When the time comes to take FMLA, download the forms here directly from the Department of Labor website. Your doctor will have to sign the paperwork before you return the completed documentation.

FMLA Eligibility

Not every Florida parent is eligible for Family Medical Leave Act job protections during maternity leave. There are three sets of qualifying criteria, which exclude many parents. Read more in the next section of this article.

  1. Company size – applies to companies with 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius.
  2. Hours worked – the person must have worked 1,250 hours within the last 12 months
  3. The Same employer – the individual must have been working with the same company for 12 months

Applying Florida Parental Leave Laws – Who Qualifies

Applying the Florida parental leave laws can be tricky. You must also look at the federal regulations in combination with the state versions. Keep in mind that every statute applies only to specific population segments.

Learn about job rights for specific groups such as fathers, teachers, small business personnel, and state workers.

Paternity Leave

Florida paternity leave laws offer fathers very limited rights – since dad is not the person carrying a baby in a womb.

  1. FMLA covers fathers taking the time from work to care for his sick wife suffering complications prior to delivery.
  2. FMLA covers fathers during baby bonding time after delivery.
  3. Short-term disability never covers fathers – as they are not disabled.
  4. Fathers laid off from a job can collect unemployment compensation during paternity leave. He must be available to work and actively seeking a new job.

Small Businesses

Florida maternity leave laws for small business depend on the number of workers. Everyone has a different definition of small business. However, the regulations are very precise on worker size criteria.

  1. FMLA – does not apply to small businesses with less than 50 employees working within a 75-mile radius.
  2. Pregnancy Discrimination Act – applies to small businesses with more than 15 or more total workers.
  3. Florida Civil Rights Act – does not cover small businesses with 15 or fewer personnel
  4. Voluntary short-term disability – small businesses with 3 or more personnel can participate.

Teachers and Instructional Employees

Florida maternity leave statutes for teachers contain specialized provisions.3 The federal FMLA has updated rules regarding teachers and schools, which fall into four categories.

  1. Do not apply to other educational institutions
    1. Colleges
    2. Universities
  2. Special rules for types of schools
    1. Apply to local educational agencies
      1. Public school boards
      2. Public elementary and secondary schools
      3. Private elementary and secondary schools
      4. Preschools
  3. Rural schools count all schools in a district in the 50 employees in a 75-mile radius criterion.
  4. The special guidelines apply to leave taken at the end of an academic term.
  5. The rules pertain to instructional employees
    1. Teachers
    2. Athletic coaches
    3. Driving instructors
    4. Special education assistants

State Employees

Florida parental leave laws for state employees fall under Statues Title X, Chapter 110, and Section 221.S.4

State employees enjoy up to six months of unpaid time away from work to care for a newborn or adopted child or to take care of a spouse during his/her disability. This may include time prior to delivery as well as mom’s recovery from childbirth.

A state employer may not terminate a worker because of the pregnancy of the person or the person’s spouse.

Sources

  1. FL Department of Children
  2. Civil Rights Act
  3. Instructional Employees
  4. Title X, Chapter 110, and Section 221.S