Planning your maternity leave in California

Linda, one of our faithful blogger is (like me) 8-month pregnant. Being an employee in a company in the Bay Area, she shared her maternity leave planification experience with us.

Linda's Maternity Leave

Maternity leave differs from a state to another, from a country to another and from a company to another. Fortunately for us, California has one of the most generous maternity leave policies in the US.

Planning your maternity leave for the first time is an important but not easy thing to do. Coming from Germany, where people usually have a quite long maternity leave it took me a while to get used to the fact to go back to work comparably soon. However, now I am happy the way I planned my maternity leave (more on this later). I found it extremely helpful to ask friends and coworkers about their experience.

First of all, every maternity leaves durations are personal and depends on a couple of major factors that are: financial issues, your company policy and (most important) your personal needs and desires. Don’t hesitate to ask your employer to meet your needs! See if you can extend your time using PTO (Paid time off) or unpaid leave in addition to the official time of maternity leave if you feel that you want to stay home with your baby for a longer time.

Generally you can take off 2-4 weeks before your due date, which is called pre-delivery disability. Be sure to reduce stress in the last trimester of your pregnancy and schedule meetings for your leave early. In most companies the time off before the due date does not reduce the time you have with your newborn after its birth.

Usually, companies in California give you 12 weeks of unpaid leave where they hold your job for you (unless it would have ended anyway). Generally, you keep on receiving benefits such as health insurance.

In addition to this, two different programs can cover 55 to 67 % of your salary. Post delivery disability leave starts right after birth and covers 55 % of your salary for 6 weeks (8 weeks for a cesarean birth). Your company’s short-term disability might top it up to about 67% of your salary.  If you have been working in California and you paid taxes for the past 12 months, you might qualify an additional 6 weeks of paid family leave (PFL). Your partner might qualify for paid family leave as well, even if you cannot take it at the same time.

Linda’s personal maternity leave plan:

My plan is to be able to reduce hours to min. 30 hours per week in the last month before my due date if I feel like it. I decided to stop working a week before my due date to have time to relax and take it easy.

After the delivery I will take off a total of 16 weeks before starting with reduced hours again. Of these 6 weeks (8 weeks with cesarean) will be paid post delivery disability (67 % salary) plus an extra 6 weeks of paid family leave (55 % salary). To have a little more time with my baby I chose to use 15 days of PTO and add one week of unpaid leave in the end before starting with 30 hours per weeks again for a month.

So that is the plan and I feed really good about it. How I feel about my choice in the aftermath I’ll make sure to tell you in another blog post, in a couple of months. Stay tuned!

More information:

How to Create a Maternity Leave Policy
Planning Maternity Leave

California Maternity Leave

Paid Family Leave

Maternity Leave in the US - picture from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/maternity-leave-policy.html

Maternity Leave in the US – picture from http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/maternity-leave-policy.html

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