Length of Maternity Leave in South Carolina: Job Rights & Pay

New parents in South Carolina frequently ask how long maternity leave lasts and whether the time off from work is paid or unpaid?

The precise answer depends on several factors.

For instance, legal job and health insurance protections can last between zero and twelve weeks depending on employer type and size, and hours worked by the individual. The federal FMLA governs this issue.

Meanwhile, the time off is typically uncompensated because only state government employees in SC get paid family leave. Other workers in the Palmetto State have to anticipate the lost income and take proactive steps before they conceive.

How Long is Paid Maternity Leave in SC?

The length of time paid maternity leave benefits last, and the amount of money you get each week in South Carolina could be zero, two, six weeks, or longer. Some forward-thinking mothers fare the best.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability for maternity leave in SC lasts for zero, six, eight weeks, or more, depending on many variables. However, most mothers receive nothing, as you will shortly see.

  • 0 weeks of short-term disability pay is the most common outcome.
    • The state does not have a mandatory program for private workers
    • The PEBA plan has a 90-day elimination period
    • You must enroll before getting pregnant to file a valid claim
  • Women who buy a policy at work before conception have a better outcome
    • 6 weeks: recovery from normal vaginal birth
    • 8 weeks: recovery for C-section delivery
    • 9 – 26 weeks: medical complications of pregnancy before and after birth

Unemployment Benefits

Collecting unemployment as a substitute for paid maternity leave means that your benefits last for zero weeks because you do not qualify while you still have a job. Plus, you do not meet other critical qualifiers.

  • Physically able to work: you are not qualified while disabled
    • Pregnancy disability before your due date
    • Recovery from labor and delivery
    • Postpartum medical issues
  • Available for suitable employment: you are ineligible while caretaking
    • Bonding with your newborn
    • Nursing a premature infant

However, filing for unemployment becomes viable after mom’s recovery and caretaking duties conclude – if she lost her job due to a “compelling family reason.” [1] 

  • Illness or disability of the claimant
  • Illness or disability of an immediate family member

Paid Family Leave

Parents working for the South Carolina state government enjoy up to six weeks of paid family leave to care for a newborn baby, beginning October 1, 2022. However, these benefits do not apply to teachers and the taxpayers working in private industries. [2]

  • State government employees enjoy varying lengths of paid family leave
    • Six weeks for primary caregivers after birth or adoption
    • Two weeks for secondary caregivers after birth or adoption, and both parents when welcoming a foster child
  • School teachers do not qualify even though the state provides funding for salaries, but the law classifies them as district employees
  • The taxpayers working in private industry who fund these generous benefits must fend for themselves

How Long are Maternity Leave Job Protections in SC?

The answer to how long maternity leave job protections last in South Carolina is binary. Your legal rights could be zero or twelve weeks depending on whether you qualify under the federal FMLA, as the state does not have a supplemental law.


The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides twelve weeks of unpaid job and health insurance protections during maternity leave to eligible parents who work for a covered employer.

  • Covered employers fit into several buckets
    • All public (government) agencies and departments
    • All public and private primary and secondary schools
    • Companies with 50+ employees working within a 75-mile radius
  • Eligible workers must meet two additional qualifiers
    • 12 months of tenure with the company or agency
    • 1,250 hours worked over the preceding 12 months

For example, school teachers, government workers, and corporate employees typically have twelve weeks under FMLA. Meanwhile, small business personnel and part-time workers are not eligible.

Pregnancy Accommodations

The Pregnancy Accommodations Act (SCPAA) does not directly affect how long maternity leave job protections last in South Carolina. However, it does extend other significant legal rights to more mothers.

  • All employers with fifteen or more employees must comply
  • Employees do not need to meet the hours worked criteria

The SCPAA requires that covered employers make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.[3]

Article Citations:

[1] SC Code Section 41-35-125 (B) (1)

[2] ABC News Paid Leave for Teachers

[3] SC Pregnancy Accommodations Act