How long is a parental leave in Michigan, and how much money do you get while at home bonding with your newborn or adopted baby?

There is no single correct answer to those two questions – it depends on many factors.

First, most new parents take unpaid time off from work because MI does not have a state-wide paid family leave or temporary disability program.

Second, FMLA provides twelve weeks – but only if you work for a covered employer and meet the other eligibility criteria.

On the other hand, civil services workers have a much longer – if they can afford that much time off without pay. Mothers can take up to twelve months, while fathers get six.

Paid Parental Leave in Michigan

Michigan is one of many states that does not have a paid maternity leave program. Therefore, most parents must dip into savings and cobble together resources to cover their living expenses while they bond with their baby without any money coming in.

Four programs can sometimes help parents with their money shortages.

Private Assistance

Request a maternity leave loan to obtain a stockpile of cash to pay regular bills while you bond with your baby. If approved, a private lender licensed in the State of Michigan will deposit the funds directly into your checking account.

Since most parents do not have paid parental leave, borrowing money is the primary form of financial assistance most couples will find.

Do not borrow money unless you are confident that you will return to work and that your employer will hold your job open – per FMLA guidelines (see below). You must repay the lender with interest and will need your income.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance is the primary way that mothers in Michigan can enjoy paid maternity leave benefits. However, many parents miss out because you must purchase a policy before conception to qualify for benefits.

For women who buy coverage before the start of their pregnancy, a policy may honor claims for three common maternity-related scenarios.

  1. Complications of pregnancy that cause lost work before the due date
  2. Recovery from childbirth labor and delivery
    1. Vaginal birth: 6 weeks
    2. Cesarean Section: 8 weeks
  3. Postpartum medical complications that delay return to the job

Unemployment Benefits

Filing a claim for unemployment benefits in Michigan is a poor substitute for paid maternity leave. The three primary eligibility criteria rule out most new mothers and fathers from qualifying.[1]

  1. Able to work disqualifies mothers recovering from childbirth
  2. Available to work rules out parents caring for a newborn baby
  3. Actively seeking new employment excludes those covered by FMLA

However, some new parents lose their job after an extended absence from work. Mothers fired or who quit because of health problems (pregnancy complications, childbirth recovery, or postpartum disorders) may qualify after they recover and are able and available to work.

Paid Sick Leave

The Michigan Paid Medical Leave Act provides qualifying parents with up to forty hours (one week) of compensated sick time. However, this program is inadequate for many parental scenarios because the benefits do not last long enough, and many new mothers and fathers do not qualify.[2]

  1. Forty hours evaporate in the blink of an eye when mom needs at least six weeks to recover from childbirth. Plus, she may need more time if she experiences pregnancy complications before birth and postpartum disorders after.
  2. The paid sick leave law applies to entities with more than fifty employees and excludes many other workers. For example, small businesses are not subject to the requirements, and salaried employees exempt from overtime do not qualify.

How FMLA works in Michigan

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) works the same way in Michigan as across the country. The state has yet to pass any legislation that extends the length of time off, opens the legal protections to more people, or provides monetary compensation – as others have done for workers in the private industry.

However, the same does not hold for state government employees. People working in civil service have far more time off than the taxpayers who support them.

Amount

FMLA in Michigan is unpaid time off from work. The law does not require employers to continue paying the salary of parents or compensating them based on their average weekly wages.

However, new mothers and fathers can tap into any banked compensatory time.

  • Sick
  • Vacation
  • Personal

FMLA also requires employers to continue health insurance benefits as if the individual were still working. Since many employees contribute towards the premiums using pre-tax payroll deductions, they will lose this tax advantage while off without pay.

Length

FMLA lasts for up to twelve weeks in Michigan as it does throughout the nation. However, because the eligibility rules exclude about half of the population, many new parents have no legal protections during maternity leave.

  • Covered Employers
    • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks
    • A public agency, including a local, state, or federal government
    • Public or private elementary or secondary school
  • Eligible Personnel
    • Works for a covered employer
    • Has worked for the employer for at least 12 months
    • Logged 1,250 hours of service for the employer in the last 12 months
    • Work location has at least 50 employees within 75 miles.

Pregnancy

FMLA in Michigan covers mothers while pregnant and after as it does across the country. Women who meet the qualifying criteria noted above enjoy up to twelve weeks of unpaid time off for three frequently occurring maternity leave scenarios.

  1. Employee’s serious health issue comes into play if mom experiences pregnancy complications before her due date and postpartum medical disorders
  2. Bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster child
  3. Care of a sick family member could apply with premature infants and those who begin life in Neonatal Intensive Care for other medical reasons

Paternity

FMLA also applies to Michigan fathers taking paternity leave, allowing them twelve weeks of unpaid time off – if they meet the qualifications noted above. However, men have fewer qualifying reasons and even less access to income benefits.

FMLA criteria apply to new dads under two scenarios rather than three.

  1. Bonding with a newborn, adopted, or foster child
  2. Care of a family member with a severe medical condition
    1. Wife suffering from pregnancy complications or postpartum disorders, but not a single mother living independently
    2. Premature low-birth-weight infants or babies with critical illnesses

Short-term disability does not cover paternity leave because fathers remain physically able to perform their work duties – unless they pass out in the delivery room and injure themselves!

Fathers working in civil service positions have the opportunity to take six months of unpaid paternity leave to bond with his child – if he can afford that much time off from work (see below).

Civil Servants

FMLA also covers new parents working in civil service positions in Michigan. However, MI provides additional unpaid legal job protections for its state government employees.[3]

Three programs run concurrent with FMLA – if applicable.

  1. Parental care: up to six months to bond with his or her child
  2. Maternity: covers women after childbirth
    1. Six weeks: natural delivery
    2. Eight weeks: cesarean birth
  3. Medical: up to six months for an employee’s health condition

Civil service workers can also take family care leave for twelve weeks to attend to a sick family member. However, FMLA rules eligibility rules apply with no supplement from the state government.

Add two alternatives together. Six months for pregnancy complications and or postpartum problems, plus six months for baby bonding, equals a full year for new mothers – if they can afford the time off without pay.

Footnoted Sources:

[1] MI Unemployment Eligibility

[2] MI Chamber of Commerce

[3] MI Civil Service Commission