Pregnancy & Parental Leave

When Can a Parent Take Leave for Pregnancy or for a New Child?

  • Who can take leave to care for a new child, and how much leave is available?

    A parent can take up to 12 weeks of protected leave to care for a newborn child or newly placed adopted or foster child if she/he:

    • Works for a business with 50 or more employees or works for a public agency of any size;
      • Works at a worksite where 50 or more employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles of that worksite; and
    • Has worked at least 12 months for that business for a total of at least 1,250 hours during the 12-month period immediately before the start of the leave.

    For more detail, see the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (www.dol.gov) or call the U.S. Department of Labor at 206-398-8039 or 503-326-3057 if you work in Clark, Cowlitz,Wahkiakum, Skamania or Klickitat counties.

  • Does a parent get PAID leave while taking time off to care for a new child?

    The FMLA does not require that parents get paid leave while taking time off to care for a new child. If a parent has accrued paid leave, she can choose to use her paid leave while the FMLA leave is running or the employer can require her to use all accrued paid leave while the FMLA leave is running. This is called “substitution” of paid leave. At this time, Washington does not provide any paid maternity leave or paternity leave benefits to parents and does not require that employers provide such benefits.

  • What rights do you have for time off for pregnancy?

    The answer depends on how many workers the woman's employer has. If the woman's employer has:

    • fewer than 8 employees or the business is a religious non-profit organization, she is not guaranteed a job when she is able to return to work. See "Pregnancy and the Intersection of FLA, FMLA and WLAD" on the Human Rights Commission website. (www.hum.wa.gov)
    • 8 or more employees and the business is not a religious non-profit organization, she is allowed leave for pregnancy-related conditions that rise to the level of a temporary disability leave. The amount of disability leave is based on her individual condition and may include all the time her health care provider determines she is unable to work. See "Pregnancy and the Intersection of FLA, FMLA and WLAD" (www.hum.wa.gov) on the Human Rights Commission website.
      • 50 or more employees - The Washington State Family Leave Act (FLA)  provides pregnant women more time off than the 12 weeks of leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The FLA has the same eligibility requirements as the FMLA (see above). An eligible employee is entitled to 12 weeks of FLA in addition to any disability leave ordered by her health care provider for pregnancy and childbirth. This is because the FLA does not run during pregnancy or childbirth disability leave. The FLA will start to run when the woman's doctor releases her back to work, usually six to eight weeks after the birth for a birth without complications.

For more information:

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