Know Your Rights: Maternity Leave

Explanation of Maternity/Parental Leave

Article V, Section 4 of the CBA

Provisions for Maternity Leave under the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA)

All or any portion of a maternity leave taken by an employee because of medical disability, may be charged to the employee’s available sick leave for the period the employee’s licensed health care provider certifies in writing that the employee is disabled due to childbearing.  There is no limit on the number of days the employee may take leave with pay using accumulated sick leave.  The District must maintain the employee’s benefits while the employee is on leave with pay. 

Sick leave may only be used by the mother for that portion of parental leave when the woman is disabled due to a pregnancy related illness, or due to recovery from childbirth as certified in writing by the Personal licensed health care provider (Article V, Section 4).  The District has no control over the time period a woman is allowed to use for sick leave due to pregnancy.  If the mother chooses to use accumulated sick leave to stay at home during pregnancy or following the birth of the child, either the woman’s ob/gyn must provide a written order for a specified number of days, or the child’s pediatrician must provide a written order for a specified number of days.  This number of days can be changed based on either the mother or the child’s health or need for care.

Either parent (father or mother) may take sick leave for the birth of a child and/or to care for the child for as long a period of time as the licensed health care provider certifies is necessary. 

Parental leave may be granted for adopting or receiving permanent custody of a child through the age of five(Article V, Section 4).  This may be a combination of either accumulated sick with pay or unpaid leave using a combination of the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Washington Family Leave Act (FLA). 

Provisions for Maternity Leave under State and Federal Law:

Under federal and state law a woman must be allowed to take medical leave from work due to pregnancy disability; there is no set period of time off for problems related to pregnancy.  If the employer offers short term disability insurance for other temporary disabilities, then the employer must offer it for pregnancy as well.  

The Family Medical Leave Act (federal FMLA) provides that an employer provide unpaid leave to the employee for disability due to pregnancy for up to 12 weeks (90 days).  If the employer provides health care benefits to its employee’s, it must continue to provide the benefits to a woman during pregnancy disability for up to 12 weeks. After that time period, the employee, under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) may continue to receive medical coverage during unpaid leave at the employee’s expense. 

The Washington State Family Leave Act (FLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during a twelve month period related to birth of the child and/or to care for the child.  FLA leave is not to cover post-pregnancy medical disability; that is the purpose of the FMLA. FLA leave is in addition & consecutive to FMLA leave & is principally to allow the absent employee to care for the newborn child. FLA further provides unpaid leave for placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care.  To reiterate, FLA leave can be used in conjunction with the federal FMLA disability leave and the employee’s may use accumulated sick leave during this period of absence.