The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law governing how maternity and paternity leave work in the Commonwealth of Virginia as of early 2022
However, the FMLA has holes that affect parents differently depending on their eligibility and circumstances.
Most mothers (outside of state employees) must take unpaid time off from work, while legal job rights could last for 12 weeks for about half the population. Plus, many women need more time because of pregnancy complications before delivery and postpartum problems after.
Fathers follow the same set of rules without the worry of a disabling medical condition affecting them directly.
Virginia Maternity Leave Laws 2022
2022 Virginia maternity leave laws provide some mothers with job and health insurance protection without pay, but do not require income replacement to any women working for private employers.
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 VA 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.
Most often, Virginia mothers do not get any wage benefits during maternity leave. The reason is that the commonwealth does not have a paid family leave program that applies to workers in private industry.
However, there are exceptions to every rule.
- State employees eligible under VSDP (see below under laws)
- Employers who offer paid leave benefits voluntarily
- Women who purchase short-term disability before conception
Private short-term disability insurance in Virginia provides mothers with a partial income replacement option. However, the policy must begin before conception to be effective.
- Short-term disability for pregnancy complications could replace a portion of income during the time mom cannot work before her due date – which could last for months.
- Short-term disability for maternity leave covers the mother’s recovery from childbirth (labor and delivery).
- 6-weeks for a vaginal birth
- 8-weeks for C-section delivery
- Longer for postpartum medical problems
Buy a policy through your employer for the best overall benefit.
Collecting unemployment for maternity leave is not viable in Virginia (or any other state). Three universal criteria rule this out.
- Physically able to work (not when disabled)
- Available for duty (not when caring for an infant)
- Actively seeking new employment
However, mothers could become eligible for unemployment after they recover from childbirth, and after their caretaking duties end. That is if they lost their job while taking time off (see FMLA below). VA law includes several “good cause” reasons that could apply to your situation.
- Care of child
- Health condition of the mother
Maternity leave in Virginia can last from zero weeks to twelve weeks, up to 6 months (or longer) in some cases, depending on the circumstances.
- Zero Weeks: can occur to women who do not qualify under FMLA
- Twelve weeks: applies to mothers eligible for FMLA job and health insurance legal rights
- Six months: pertains to women covered by short-term disability who need extended time away before and or after childbirth
Note: a mother out on disability for six months could enjoy partial wage benefits during this time, but would lose job and health insurance protections after zero or twelve weeks per FMLA eligibility.
Virginia Paternity Leave Benefits 2022
2022 Virginia paternity leave laws offer some fathers job and health insurance protection that is unpaid, but even fewer income restoration opportunities, with different trigger reasons.
Paternity leave in Virginia lasts from zero weeks to twelve weeks but never any longer. The reason is that dad cannot tap into disability to extend his time at home while caring for his wife or infant.
- Zero Weeks: when dad is not eligible for FMLA
- Twelve Weeks: if father qualifies for FMLA
The amount of money that fathers get during paternity leave in Virginia is most frequently zero. The state does not have a paid family leave program that covers caregivers. Plus, dads cannot file a disability claim because they remain physically able to work.
However, unemployment compensation becomes an option after a father’s caretaking duties end, and he lost his job in the interim. The VA laws regarding good cause reasons include two pertinent reasons.1
- Care of a child
- Care of spouse
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in Virginia
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is the primary law in Virginia governing maternity and paternity leave rights. The FMLA is a federal rule that applies equally to workers across the country.
The Commonwealth does not have a supplemental regulation expanding access to more workers, extending the length of time, or providing wage replacement benefits – except as noted below.
- Covered employers have 50 or more employees working within a 75-mile radius
- Eligible workers logged 1,250 hours in the last 12 months of continuous service
- Commuters across state lines are covered by the labor laws in those jurisdictions, which may differ
- 12 weeks of legal job and health insurance protections (employer continues paying their share of premiums)
- Unpaid time off from work while funding employee share of health insurance premiums
The Commonwealth of Virginia does have two requirements that can work in conjunction with the federal FMLA – although they are not closely related.
- The VA Human Rights Act safeguards individuals from unlawful discrimination because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- The VA Sickness and Disability Program provides partial wage restoration benefits for eligible state employees who cannot work because of a covered accident or illness, including pregnancy.
The Virginia FMLA forms that you need to file are not unique to the Commonwealth 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 forms, 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