Texas Maternity Leave Rights in 2022

Maternity leave is a leave of absence from your company before and after you deliver a baby. In many countries, it’s completely normal to have paid maternity leave, and in some countries, states, and companies, fathers are given paternity leave, where they can take time off without losing their job or income.

What Are the Requirements for Paid Maternity Leave in Texas in 2022?

There are no state requirements for paid maternity leave in Texas as of 2022. Texas employees are eligible in some cases for Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA leave, but there are no additional rights provided at the state level.

Texas provides protection against discrimination if you are pregnant. As a pregnant woman, your place of work cannot:

  1. Treat you differently because of your pregnancy;
  2. Discipline you for being pregnant; and
  3. Fire you for being pregnant.

State law stipulates that if you have to temporarily take some personal time off because of your pregnancy, you cannot be treated any differently than someone who takes a temporary leave of absence for any other reason.

A big caveat here is that companies have to provide what could easily be referred to as separate but equal protection.

For example: if your company allows employees to take off time for temporary disabilities or family emergencies, they also have to allow you to take off time for pregnancy or childbirth disabilities or emergencies. 

**Note that this doesn’t mean they have to give you time off for maternity or paternity leave. It means that if your company has a policy where you can have time off for an emergency, an emergency related to your pregnancy would qualify.

No Texas state laws provide any requirement for maternity or paternity leave.

How Much Is Provided for Maternity Leave in Texas (TX)?

By state law, absolutely zero maternity leave is provided in the state of Texas.

If you have a new child as foster parents, or if you have a serious health condition while pregnant, employment law only means you cannot be subject to pregnancy discrimination.

Short-term disability

If you are physically unable to return to work because of your pregnancy, you might be able to use short-term disability leave instead of maternity leave. But this only applies to short periods of time where you are physically unable to perform your job.

Unemployment

Because there is no maternity leave in Texas, you might be able to file for unemployment if you are not employed and don’t have coverage during the time that you take leave.

Paid family leave

You can also apply for Paid Family Leave, assuming your company offers this.

How Long is Maternity Leave in Texas (TX)?

There is absolutely no maternity leave in Texas legally available at the state level. There is no guaranteed length of time off if you are pregnant. 

The Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA is a form of federal protection for time off under specific circumstances. Under the medical leave act (FMLA), there are exceptions for which you can apply. However, you only qualify if:

  1. Your employer has at least 50 employees for a minimum of 20 weeks each year;
  2. You are a full-time employee (not an independent contractor); and
  3. You have worked with the company for at least 12 months once the leave start date begins*.

*This does not have to be 12 consecutive months. If you have worked for an employer as a full-time employee but for only half a year at a time, then once you have worked for a total of 12 months, you qualify for this requirement. 

Note:

In almost all cases of FMLA, Texas is only required by federal law to offer unpaid leave and job protected leave for the duration of your situation. This means your job will be waiting for you when you return to work, but you are not being paid during the time you take off. 

Parental leave

Instead of maternity leave in Texas, you can apply for parental leave under the FMLA. This allows you up to 12 weeks of time off for:

  • Mothers;
  • Fathers;
  • New parents of biological children;
  • New parents of foster children; and
  • New parents of adopted children.

The purpose of parental leave is to allow time to bond with your new child. This type of leave is unpaid. You have to apply for and use this leave within one year of your new child’s arrival. So, if you adopt a child in February, you can choose to wait and apply for parental leave in June so that you can spend the summer with them while they are out of school.

However, you can try to work a deal with your employer to apply any paid vacation time you have accrued toward that time off. 

For example:

Sharon has four weeks of paid vacation time each year. She has not used her vacation time yet. She applies for FMLA Texas maternity leave and uses four weeks of vacation time to get a paycheck. After that, the remaining eight weeks she takes off are unpaid. 

Sick leave

Things get very complicated here because Texas laws don’t have any overarching disability laws or family medical leave, as many parents have discovered. 

You can only use accrued leave if the reason you are leaving is covered by your employer’s policy. If Sharon gives birth and is unable to work for two weeks because she is physically unable to return, she would probably qualify for sick leave.

But once Sharon is no longer ill and is physically able to complete her work, she can’t substitute sick days as part of her parental leave.

The only good thing here is that federal law requires employers in Texas to continue paying for your health insurance coverage if healthcare is provided as part of your employment contract. 

FMLA for fathers

Fathers can apply for the same coverage under parental leave. Fathers must also apply within 12 months from the child entering the home. This is also unpaid leave only. 

FMLA for teachers

Teachers can apply for up to 12 weeks of family leave once they have worked for a school district for at least 12 months and logged 1,250 hours of work time. Teachers may or may not be able to apply vacation days or sick leave or set up parental leave so that it lines up with summer vacation or Christmas vacation. 

Every school district is different in what they allow and at what point leave is paid or unpaid. Moreover, different school districts have different schedules, and teachers should be aware of what the individual work schedule is and how they can use that in combination with parental leave to their advantage.

How to Apply for Paid Maternity Leave in Texas?

Texas does not have paid maternity leave. There is currently no way to apply for paid maternity leave in Texas.

If, however, your company provides some form of paid maternity leave, you will need to speak with your human resources department to figure out how you apply for leave at your company. There may be specific dates by which you must apply. Each company is different regarding what they require, how long they offer paid leave, and when you qualify for leave.

If your company offers paid maternity leave, it is unlikely to be more than a couple of weeks long, but that time can usually be combined with other qualifying sick leave or vacation days.

If you are in Texas and you want to apply for parental leave under federal law like the FMLA, you can find resources for applications online or in person. Texas State websites do not provide easily accessible links to apply for parental leave. Instead, they simply list the qualifications for it and what the laws are.

Conclusions

Texas is very far behind the rest of the United States when it comes to providing maternity leave, let alone paternity leave. There is no state policy for things like pregnancy disability leave in Texas, which means it comes down to individual employers offering their own form of maternity, paternity, or parental leave.

Article by Sofi Ostymchuk

Sofi Ostymchuk is a Content Lead and Legal Writer at Lawrina. Sofi manages the content on the blog, communicates with contributors, looks for interesting topics, and creates articles in cooperation with lawyers and law experts. If you would like to be a blogger for Lawrina, you can contact Sofi for all the details via email at s.ostymchuk@lawrina.com.

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