The Texas laws regarding paternity and maternity leave are sparse when compared to other states. Others have mandatory paid family leave, and supplementary regulations that expand FMLA legal rights to more people, and extend the number of weeks a new parent can take off from work.

The answer to how long parental leave lasts, and how much money comes in while absent from work could be quite generous or very stingy. It all depends on your circumstances and the choices you make before becoming pregnant.

Learn how three laws interact with short-term disability insurance to determine how your time off from work will affect your job and budget.

Texas Maternity Leave Laws

Two federal and one state-specific laws govern most aspects of how maternity leave works for Texas mothers.

  1. The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid time off for eligible employees working for covered employers. See the next section for more details.
  2. The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) prohibits unfair treatment of female employees based on her pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical condition.[1]
  3. The Texas Payday Law enforces fringe benefit payments per written company policies or agreements. The provision covers pay for vacations, sick days, parental leave, holidays, and severance.[2]

Government Assistance

Government financial assistance programs may help you survive during unpaid maternity leave and typically fall into two categories.

First, some states have initiatives that replace a portion of income while mom is unable to work or when parents bond with their newborn baby. However, these opportunities are unavailable to TX workers employed in private industry.

Second, a variety of federal welfare programs can help mothers and fathers pay their bills during the time they are off from work. Plus, lost earnings boost your eligibility for income-based supports.

How Much

The State of Texas does not offer paid maternity leave benefits. Therefore, the answer to how much money you get is different for every person. Most mothers must take time off without pay for bed rest, or to bond with her baby. However, every rule has an exception.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability in Texas is the primary form of paid maternity leave benefits for many mothers. Women who have coverage in force before conception may receive up to 66% of income in payments – depending on choices made at the time of enrollment.

However, most parents do not qualify to submit a claim.

  • Texas does not have state-mandated short-term disability
  • Women must purchase a private policy in advance
  • Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition on all new policies
  • Only plans bought through employers cover normal childbirth
  • Fathers do not experience a covered medical event

Unemployment

Mothers are unlikely to collect unemployment while on maternity leave in Texas. Universal criteria disqualify most new parents.

  • During FMLA (if eligible) you still have a job
  • Mom is not physically able to work
    • During pregnancy disability
    • While recovering from labor and delivery
  • Parents are unavailable for duty while baby bonding or caring for a sick infant

However, many mothers and some fathers become eligible to collect unemployment once they are physically able to work, available for duty, and actively seeking a new job. Section 207.045 of the Texas Unemployment Act states that a person who voluntarily quits work due to a “good cause reason” is not disqualified for benefits.[3]

  • Medically verified illness of a minor child
  • Employee’s injury, disability, or pregnancy

Paid Family Leave

Texas does not have a paid family leave program that covers workers in private industry or public service. Only a handful of local governments offer such an entitlement, and the Lone Star State is not one of them.

On the other hand, the Payday law could work in your favor in this regard if your employer has a written policy about continuing salary during this scenario. Therefore, read your employee handbook carefully.

How Long

The response to how long maternity leave lasts in Texas has two parts, and each answer is different for every person because every situation is unique.

  1. The duration of job and health insurance protections ranges from zero to twelve weeks.
    1. 0: people ineligible under FMLA whose employers do not have a written policy per the Payday law
    2. 12: parents who qualify for FMLA job and health insurance protections
  2. The length of short-term disability claim payments can range from zero weeks on up to 6 months or longer – depending on which combination of events occur, and the benefit period limit defined in the policy.
    1. 0: women who did not purchase coverage before conception
    2. 6: mothers who experience normal vaginal childbirth
    3. 8: moms who require C-section surgical delivery
    4. 4 to 26: women who experience complications of pregnancy before birth
    5. 6 to 26: when postpartum medical disorders delay her return to work

Teachers

The maternity leave rights for teachers in Texas draw from the same set of laws and policies – with a few unique twists set aside for educators in public and private schools.

  • FMLA requirements extend to public or private elementary or secondary schools, regardless of the number of people it employs
  • Special FMLA rules apply when instructional employees take time off near the end of any academic year [4]
  • Each school district may have different written policies subject to Payday law compliance
  • The Teacher Retirement System (TRS) does not appear to offer short-term disability, but the Employee Retirement System (ERS) allows eligible members to enroll in a voluntary plan[5]

Fathers

The paternity leave rights for fathers in Texas also draws from the same set of laws and policies. However, because dads play mostly a caretaking role, their experience works differently.

  • The Pregnancy Disability Act does not apply to men in the workplace
  • FMLA pertains to paternal work absences in two scenarios
  • Short-term disability does not cover paternity leave
    • Fathers do not have a medical condition
    • Care of a sick family member does not qualify
  • Unemployment benefits are possible after paternal time off ends
    • Care of ill infant a good cause reason
    • Care of spouse not listed in the legal definition

Texas FMLA Rules

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law affecting Texas parents. The state does not have a supplemental regulation to expand the number of people covered, extend the duration, or make the time off paid rather than unpaid.

Only about half of the people in the Lone-Star state enjoy these legal rights.

  1. Take job-protected time off without interference, restraint, or retaliation
  2. Have group health insurance maintained under the same terms and conditions
  3. Restored to the same or an equivalent position after the 12 weeks

Qualifications

Texans must qualify under FMLA to enjoy the twelve weeks of parental leave rights. You must work for a covered employer and be an eligible employee.[6]

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

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

Forms

The FMLA forms that you need to file are not unique to Texas because it is a federal law that applies to workers across the nation.

The US Department of Labor publishes and hosts a variety of applicable FMLA documents, which you can easily download, print, fill out, sign, and then submit to your employer.

  • WH-380-E: Certification of Health Care Provider for Employee’s Serious Health Condition
  • WH-380-F: Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition

Footnoted Sources:

[1] Pregnancy Discrimination Act

[2] Texas Payday Law

[3] TX Unemployment Compensation Act

[4] Department of Labor – School Employees

[5] ERS for Teachers

[6] US Department of Labor

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