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Can my employer "clarify"/change the maternity leave policy after I request it? Am I entitled to a second "maternity leave" ?

Raleigh, NC |

I am currently on FMLA for the birth of twins last year. This is my second time taking FMLA, due to a calendar year leave policy. Our employee handbooks details the maternity leave policy and states that an employee is eligible for 8 paid weeks for the birth of a child and a maximum of 12 total weeks (if using FMLA, vacation, sick, etc.). There is no indication that it must be taken following birth, nor any indication that it can not be taken more than once in the case of multiple births. It does not address these issues. When I requested leave for the second time I was approved for FMLA for the birth of a child, but was denied "maternity". They clarified that the leave could not exceed 12 weeks after birth & could only be taken once, although the handbook does not say this. Any recourse?

Attorney Answers 1


Employers are not required to offer maternity leave. However, if the employer is covered by the FMLA and the employee is eligble for FMLA, then the employee is entitled to leave for a serious health condition. Certainly childbirth and any related serious health conditions can be covered by FMLA. You are entitled to upto 12 weeks of FMLA in a 12 month period. That period is automatically a calendar year unless the employer has designated another 12 month period. Most employers will choose a rolling calendar that starts when an employee first enters leave that is FMLA covered. That way, the employee will only get 12 weeks in a 12 month period. If the employer does not, then an employee could get up to 24 weeks back to back by taking 12 weeks at the end of a calendar year and another 12 weeks at the very beginning of the next calendar year.

You may take leave for 1 health condition or multiple health conditions. You can take FMLA leave at one time for for a health condition and, after coming back to work, go on FMLA leave at a later date for the same condition. You can have as many childbirths as the Duggars and get FMLA for each as long as you work for an FMLA covered employer, are FMLA eligible and do no exceed your 12 weeks in the applicable 12 month period.

If you are fired, you should contact an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible.

Kirk J. Angel is an experienced attorney who focuses his practice on employment law. Mr. Angel, who has practiced employment law for more than 16 years, represents clients throughout North Carolina and more information about him is available at This response is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, this response does not create an attorney client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your state who practices in the appropriate area.

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