Paid Maternity Leave by State 2021: A Comprehensive Guide

Maternity Leave Images - Free Download on Freepik


Paid maternity leave is a policy that allows mothers to take time off from work after giving birth while still receiving a portion of their regular salary. It is designed to provide financial support and job security to new mothers during this critical period.

Understanding Paid Maternity Leave

Paid maternity leave varies across states, and it can be confusing to navigate the complex landscape of regulations. To help you understand the intricacies, we will break down the key aspects of paid maternity leave in the United States.

Federal Laws and Paid Maternity Leave

At the federal level, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family or medical reasons, including the birth of a child. While this law ensures job protection, it does not guarantee paid leave.

States with Mandatory Paid Maternity Leave


California is a trailblazer when it comes to paid maternity leave. The state offers up to eight weeks of partial wage replacement through the Paid Family Leave (PFL) program. The wage replacement is typically around 60-70% of your regular income.

New Jersey

New Jersey provides eligible employees with up to six weeks of paid family leave, covering maternity leave as well. The wage replacement rate is based on a percentage of your average weekly wage.

New York

In New York, eligible employees can receive up to ten weeks of paid family leave. The benefit amount is calculated based on a percentage of your average weekly wage.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island offers up to four weeks of paid family leave, which includes maternity leave. The wage replacement rate is determined by your income.

States with Partial Paid Maternity Leave


Massachusetts offers eligible employees up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave under the FMLA. However, it does not have a specific paid maternity leave program.


Oregon provides eligible employees with 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave, similar to Massachusetts. There is no state-specific paid maternity leave program.


Washington follows the FMLA guidelines, offering 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave. There is no additional paid maternity leave program in place.

States with Unpaid Maternity Leave


Alabama does not have a state-specific paid maternity leave program, relying solely on federal FMLA guidelines for job-protected leave.


Idaho also lacks a state-specific paid maternity leave program, meaning employees rely on FMLA provisions for job-protected leave.

South Dakota

South Dakota does not have a state-mandated paid maternity leave program, leaving employees to depend on FMLA for job-protected leave.

How to Apply for Paid Maternity Leave

Applying for paid maternity leave involves navigating a series of steps, including notifying your employer, providing necessary documentation, and understanding your rights and responsibilities.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers have specific responsibilities when it comes to providing paid maternity leave, including notifying employees of their rights, maintaining confidentiality, and reinstating employees after leave.

Employee Eligibility

To qualify for paid maternity leave, employees must meet certain eligibility criteria, including the length of employment and hours worked.

Duration of Paid Maternity Leave

The duration of paid maternity leave varies by state and individual circumstances. Understanding how long you can take leave is essential for planning.

Benefits and Compensation

The amount of compensation you receive during maternity leave can make a significant difference in your financial stability. Learn about the wage replacement rates in your state.

Impact on Your Job

Taking maternity leave should not jeopardize your job. Understanding your rights and protections under the law is crucial.

Planning Your Maternity Leave

Effective planning can help you make the most of your maternity leave while ensuring a smooth transition back to work.

Maternity Leave and Health Insurance

Maintaining health insurance during maternity leave is vital. Learn how your coverage may be affected during this period.


Paid maternity leave is a critical benefit that varies widely from state to state. Understanding your rights, benefits, and responsibilities is essential for new mothers. As you navigate the complexities of maternity leave, remember that your well-being and family’s needs are paramount.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I take paid maternity leave if I work part-time?

Yes, in many states, part-time employees are also eligible for paid maternity leave benefits, but the amount may vary.

2. What happens if my employer refuses to grant me maternity leave?

If you meet the eligibility criteria and your employer refuses to grant you maternity leave, you may seek legal assistance or file a complaint with the relevant labor authority.

3. Do I have to use all my paid maternity leave at once?

Not necessarily. Some states offer flexibility in how you use your paid maternity leave, allowing you to take it intermittently as needed.

4. Does paid maternity leave affect my Social Security benefits?

Paid maternity leave generally does not impact your Social Security benefits, as it is considered a separate entitlement program.

5. Can fathers also take paid maternity leave?

In some states, fathers are eligible for paid family leave, which can be used for maternity leave purposes.

Related Articles

Back to top button