Can you get fired if you don’t return to work after maternity leave?

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2022 | Employment Law

If you are planning to have a child, one of the things you may be wondering about is how long you can take for maternity leave. Your employer provides you with some paid maternity leave, but you want to stay out of work for longer than that. You’ve saved, so you want to spend time with your child while they’re young.

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may take medical leave as an eligible employee and have your job remain protected. Eligible employees are allowed to take up to 12 weeks of time off after giving birth at any time up to a year following the child’s birth. This rule also applies to adopted and fostered children who are coming into their care.

Can you get fired for returning to work and then leaving again?

If you don’t return to work right away after an initial maternity leave period, you may still be able to retain your job and stay out of work for longer. For example, if you only took a month off work, went back to work for a month while your spouse stayed home, and you now want to take four more weeks, the FMLA technically does allow this.

While the FMLA doesn’t extend beyond 12 weeks for most people, you might also be able to negotiate a longer extension of your time off, such as if your child is ill or you have complications from a medical problem.

Make sure you understand your rights before you go on maternity leave

To help you avoid problems during your maternity leave, it is a good idea to learn more about your rights before you go on leave. Talk to your employer about your plans and see what would be best for them and agreeable to you. For example, they may need to you to return to work after 12 weeks, but they may be happy with you working from home four out of five days of the week.

Good communication helps in cases of employee leave. If you are or you feel you’re being treated unfairly, make sure you keep records and look into taking legal action.