Pennsylvania maternity and family medical leave laws offer important job and health insurance protections for certain workers.
Paid maternity or family leave is not one of these benefits. New parents must find a way to make ends meet while missing at least one income.
In addition, not every worker enjoys the job protections. Small business employees, part-time workers, and newly hired employees often do not qualify.
Maternity Leave Pay in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania does not have any state laws requiring maternity leave pay. Likewise, federal regulations do not have such a mandate. Nothing compels employers to continue paying parents while they stop working to care for a newborn – although they can do so voluntarily.
Most parents will find very limited paid family leave options.
In Pennsylvania, the private sector offers three options for maternity leave assistance. Choose between borrowing money, negotiating with creditors, and taking advantage of government health insurance subsidies while they last.
Request a personal loan to fund the time spent bonding with your baby during maternity leave. Complete the online form to initiate the submission.
Your infant is a newborn for only a very short period. The extra money can help your family stay current on regular bills while mom cares for and bonds with her baby.
Do not borrow money unless you are certain that you will still have a job when you are ready to return to work. You must repay the money with interest. As you will read later in this article, job protections are not guaranteed for every person, or for any length of time.
Single parents often qualify for extra financial help because of their lower income. Marital status is not a qualifier for many government benefits. However, mothers or fathers raising children on their own often meet federal poverty guidelines.
Private industry along with several Pennsylvania state agencies may be able to help lower expenses during this work absence without an income. People without emergency savings are most vulnerable.
Earning extra money during an unpaid maternity via a side hustle or online business is another way to stay afloat financially. Many new mothers look for additional ways to generate additional cash in order to spend more time bonding with her baby.
The options improve the more lead-time that you give yourself. Begin working on your side business long before you need to take time off from work. The stopgap alternatives do not pay as well.
Short-term disability in Pennsylvania replaces a portion of mom’s income during her pregnancy leave. Policies purchased at the work site also cover her maternity leave – during the time when she is recovering from normal labor and delivery.
The state does not offer or require a program covering temporary disabilities. Employers choose whether to offer an option or not. Women must purchase a private policy prior to becoming pregnant.
Collecting unemployment during maternity leave is possible in Pennsylvania under very limited circumstances. Four criteria eliminate most applicants from this benefit.
- Terminated employment
- Physically able to work
- Actively seeking a new job
- Available for suitable work
The rules vary for those laid off versus voluntarily quitting work.
Parents laid off may be able to collect unemployment during parental leave. However, mothers will be ineligible for benefits during the time she is physically unable to work because of a high-risk pregnancy, and recovery from childbirth.
Parents who voluntarily quit rarely are able to collect unemployment after parental leave. Two Pennsylvania rules could apply once they are ready to resume working again.1
- Health reasons – mom must inform her employer of any health reason prior to quitting. She may be eligible for benefits if her employer fails to offer suitable work. A high-risk pregnancy could fit this category.
- Personal reasons – a parent must have no reasonable alternative to quitting work. He or she must make an effort to maintain the working relationship. A seriously ill baby could fit this category.
FMLA Maternity Leave in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania does not have a state law extending or supplementing the nationwide Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FMLA is a federal regulation, which applies to parents across the country.
Workers do not receive pay while absent. The Family Medical Leave Act provides 12 weeks of unpaid job-protections.
The law also requires employers to continue health insurance benefits on the same basis as working employees during this time. However, it does not cover every parent. Eligibility rules apply to employers and employees.
- Covered Employers
- Employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 work weeks
- One or more work sites within 75 miles
- Eligible Employees
- New hires – worked for that employer for at least 12 months.
- Part-timers – worked for at least 1,250 hours over the 12 months
- Small businesses – location has 50 or more employees within 75 miles
Pennsylvania parents can download the Family Medical Leave Act forms directly from the Department of Labor website. Parents taking maternity leave often need to complete two sets of the paperwork. The correct document depends on the reason you must stop working.
Mothers experiencing pregnancy complications may need to stop working prior to delivery. She will also need time to recover from labor and delivery (six to eight weeks). She might be eligible under FMLA because of her own disability.
Fathers sometimes stop working to care for his expectant wife at home. In addition, both mom and dad often want time to bond with their newborn, adoptive baby or foster child. A sick infant can need extended care at home. All these reasons may qualify under FMLA as the care of a family member.
Eligible and covered Pennsylvania mothers should learn the Family Medical Leave Act pregnancy guidelines. According to the Department of Labor website, the following are examples of qualifying conditions.2
- Complications or illnesses related to pregnancy such as severe morning sickness
- Prenatal care
- Childbirth and recovery from childbirth
You will not find this second important FMLA pregnancy guideline written elsewhere. A woman experiencing complications in her first or second trimester can easily exhaust her 12 weeks of job protections.
- The average gestation is 40 weeks.
- Vaginal delivery recovery takes 6 weeks
- C-section surgery recovery lasts 8 weeks.
It is common for women to exceed the length of her legal rights. Plan accordingly. Scroll back to the section on financial assistance for options.
Pregnancy & Employment Law in PA
Pennsylvania employment laws protect women’s rights in the workplace during her pregnancy. Unlike other regulations, these rules apply while mom is still on the job. They now longer pertain once she stops working.
Two federal labor laws (PDA and ADA) plus the state-based Human Rights Act come into play.
Human Relations Act
The Pennsylvania Human Relations Act (PHRA) is a state-based regulation that prohibits discrimination against individuals or groups based on a variety of factors. One of those factors listed is “familial reasons.”
The protections provided apply to any person who is pregnant, or in the process of securing legal custody of an individual under the age of eighteen. It is reasonable to interpret this definition to include the legal adoption of a child.
The prohibited discriminations apply to employment, housing, and public accommodation. Employers with more than four employees within the Commonwealth are subject to the regulation.3
Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is a federal regulation, which applies to women and employers in Pennsylvania. The PDA protects women’s rights when looking for a job, and when actively employed.
Employers with fifteen or more employees must comply with this regulation.
Americans with Disabilities Act
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act provides job protections for women experiencing complications during pregnancy. Twenty-five percent of women will experience this qualifying medical condition.
Special accommodations may be required if the impairment limits one or more activities of daily living.
Applying Parental Leave Rights in PA
Specific groups of workers enjoy varying levels of parental leave rights in Pennsylvania. As you read above, many different regulations can apply. In addition, each has a unique set of qualifying criteria.
For example, teachers, small business employees, and fathers all have unique rights.
Pennsylvania fathers enjoy paternity leave rights under the federal FMLA. The other regulations cited in this article do not apply to men as frequently.
Fathers are eligible for 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected paternity leave.
- Care of his sick wife suffering complications
- Bonding with newborn baby
- Adoption of a child
- Placement of a foster child into the home
Fathers are ineligible for short-term disability benefits during paternity leave. Men do not suffer a qualifying medical condition.
Pennsylvania teachers enjoy a unique set of parental leave rights thanks to special provisions in the FMLA regulations. The law extends coverage to educators instructing students in small local schools and taking time off near the beginning or end of semesters.
For example, teachers working in small rural schools may still qualify even if they fail the 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. The size of the entire district matters.
Teachers having a baby close to the beginning or end of summer break also have special rights. Days when she would not have worked do not count towards the total.4
Small business employees in Pennsylvania often have the fewest parental leave rights. Each applicable federal and state-based regulation contain an employee size criterion. The employee size rules for small employers work as follows.
- FMLA – 50+ working in a 75-mile radius
- ADA – 15+
- PDA – 15+
- PHRA – 4 +