HR Glossary for HR Professionals

Glossary of the most common HR terms and acronyms to assist professionals navigating the ever-growing and ever-changing world of HR terminology.

Maternity Leave

What is Maternity Leave?

Maternity leave in the United States is regulated by US labor law. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 requires 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for mothers of newborn or newly adopted children.

Employers with 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius of the worksite must comply with FMLA standards. This means that if an employee meets FMLA criteria, the employer must offer a new parent—regardless of gender—up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave. They must also offer the ability to return to the same position with no reduction in compensation, standing within the company, or loss of healthcare coverage.

Employers do not need to offer new mothers or fathers paid parental leave unless required by state law. States that require paid family leave include California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

Title VII, a set of laws that regulate equality in the workplace, requires employers to offer the same parental leave to both mothers and fathers. For example, if an employer offers 10 weeks of paid parental leave to new mothers, that employer must also offer 10 weeks of paid paternity leave to new fathers.

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