How long is maternity leave in Ohio, and how much money do you get while out on bed rest, recovering from childbirth, bonding with your baby? And, what about fathers on paternity leave?

The answer to each of these questions depends on whether you work for an FMLA-covered employer and meet the eligibility criteria, the policies outlined in your employee handbook, and whether mom bought short-term disability before conception.

There is no single correct response that fits every person. Plus, conflicting information you might find online about a local regulation leads to a great deal of confusion for women working for small businesses.

Ohio Parental Leave Income Benefits

Parental leave laws in Ohio do not include any state-mandated income replacement benefits. Consult the employee handbook at work to determine if your employer has a paid time off policy – which could be the case – although this is rare.

Personal Loan

Request a personal loan for maternity leave to provide a cushion of cash during your unpaid work absence. If approved, the private lender licensed in Ohio will deposit funds into your bank account. Use the loan to spend quality time bonding with your baby, who will remain an infant for only a brief period.

  • Do not borrow money unless you are confident that you will return to work within a short period. You must repay the loan with interest in monthly installments.
  • Verify your eligibility under FMLA guidelines because it may be impossible to repay the obligation if you lose your job and your health insurance premiums skyrocket.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability insurance in Ohio is the primary way that new parents can enjoy up to 66% income replacement benefits. However, mom must enroll before she conceives, as all private policies exclude coverage for pre-existing pregnancy.

Short-term disability can create maternity leave pay for mothers under three scenarios that occur frequently.

  1. Pregnancy disability before birth due to medical complications
  2. Recovery from labor and delivery after normal childbirth
  3. Postpartum health issues (not depression) that delay a return to work

Short-term disability does not cover paternity leave for fathers because dads remain physically able to perform his regular work duties.

Unemployment

Collecting unemployment compensation during maternity or paternity leave is unlikely to work. Both new mothers and fathers fail at least two of the three main eligibility criteria – especially when they still have a job.

Moms Dads
Physically Able No Yes
Available No No
Seeking New Employment No No

Filing an unemployment claim after your forced absence concludes is possible if you lost your job in the interim because now you are physically able and available to work. However, now you must show that your termination or voluntary quit was for a “Just Cause.”

The legal standard under Ohio law that determines whether a quit is for “just cause” is whether the action taken was one that would be taken by an ordinarily prudent person under similar circumstances.”[1]

State Employees

State government employees enjoy paid parental leave funded by taxpayers who often do not enjoy the same benefit. Ohio law spells out the rights written into law for public servants.[2]

  • $2,000 for adoption expenses in place of receiving the wage benefit
  • A waiting period of 14 unpaid days where the parent can tap into their sick, vacation, personal, and compensatory benefits
  • Four weeks at 70% of base-rate pay not to exceed 40 hours per week
  • Mothers on pregnancy disability (per section 124.385) before birth do not have to satisfy the waiting period

Ohio FMLA Maternity & Paternity Leave

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law governing how long mothers and fathers can remain absent from work in Ohio. Eligible parents who work for covered employers get twelve weeks of unpaid time off.

Eligible Employees

  • Worked for the employer for at least 12 months
  • Logged at least 1,250 hours of service in the last 12 months
  • Works at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius

Covered Employers

  • Private-sector employer, with 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks
  • Public agency regardless of the number of people it employs
  • Public or private elementary or secondary school, regardless of the number of people it employs

Parents not protected by FMLA must turn to their employee handbook for answers.

FMLA Pay

Parents do not get paid under FMLA. The federal rule provides for uncompensated job protection and health insurance continuation for those who qualify. Plus, Ohio does not have a separate law that fills this hole by requiring employers to pay wages for employees who must stop working while on family medical leave.

However, you may be able to utilize any accrued sick, personal, vacation, or compensatory time to make up the shortfall. Of course, any person covered through short-term disability receives partial wage replacement while physically unable to work – which is also a qualifying reason under FMLA.

Under 50 Employees

The length of parental leave in Ohio changes with the FMLA under 50 employee rule. In this case, fathers do not qualify for 12 weeks of job protection rights, while mothers have confusing legal matters to interpret. Conflicting information appears in search engine results pages.

  • New dads on paternity leave have zero weeks of FMLA job protections if they work for small businesses with less than 50 employees
  • New moms on maternity leave might think they have 12 weeks of legal rights according to a related state law, which appears to help pregnant women who work for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees

Ohio administrative code 4112-5-05 states that childbirth is justification for the absence of females working for employers with more than four employees. Then, a later amendment added a twelve-week requirement regardless of other qualifications. Then, a subsequent court case overturned the rule stating the pregnant women do not have additional rights.[3]

Therefore, you may need to hire a lawyer to interpret and enforce these statutes and rulings. Or, you could rely on a recent statement by the State Attorney General, that Ohio law does not require exclusive rights beyond FMLA.[4]

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services

[2] Ohio Rev Code § 124.136 (2016)

[3] Ohio Administrative Code 4112-5-05 Ruling

[4] Fair Employment Guide Attorney General