Texas Maternity Leave Rights in 2023
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. Fathers are given paternity leave in some countries, states, and companies, where they can take time off without losing their job or income.
Since we’re in the U.S., let’s see how it goes in Texas companies and what you can do to make your family leave as smooth and lawful as possible.
Requirements for Paid Maternity Leave in Texas in 2023
In 2023, Texas has no state requirements for paid maternity leave. State employees are eligible in some cases for the medical leave act FMLA, but no additional rights are provided at the state level.
Texas provides protection for pregnant women against discrimination. As a pregnant woman, your place of work cannot:
- Treat you differently because of your health status;
- Discipline you for being pregnant; and
- Fire you for being pregnant.
State law stipulates that if you have to take some personal time off because of pregnancy temporarily, you cannot be treated any differently than someone who takes a temporary leave of absence for any other reason. A big caveat is that companies must provide what could easily be referred to as separate but equal protection.
For example, suppose your company allows employees to take days off for temporary disabilities or family emergencies. In that case, it should also let you take time off for pregnancy or childbirth emergencies.
However, this regulation doesn’t imply maternity or paternity leave itself. It means that if your company has a policy where you can have time off for an emergency, pregnancy would be considered. Texas state laws do not provide any requirements for maternity or paternity leave.
Custody and child care authorizations can be a complex and emotional process for parents going through a divorce or separation. It's i...
How Much Is Provided for Maternity Leave in Texas?
Employment law only guarantees that you cannot be subject to pregnancy discrimination if you have a new child as foster parents or a serious health condition while pregnant. But you can refer to the following options.
If you cannot return to work because of pregnancy, you might use short-term disability leave instead of maternity leave. But this only applies to short periods where you are physically unable to perform your job.
Since there is no maternity leave in Texas, you can file for unemployment if you don’t have coverage when you take leave.
Paid family leave
You can apply for paid family leave, assuming your company offers this.
How Long Is Maternity Leave in Texas?
No maternity leave in Texas is legally available at the state level. There is no guaranteed time off if you are pregnant, either.
However, under the FMLA, many mothers can apply if they match the following criteria:
- Their employer has at least 50 employees working for a minimum of 20 weeks each year;
- They are a full-time employee (not an independent contractor); and
- They have worked with the company for at least 12 months once the leave start date begins.
Remember that this time does not have to be 12 consecutive months. If you have worked for an employer full-time but for only half a year, you qualify for this requirement once you have worked for 12 months.
In almost all FMLA cases, federal law only requires Texas employer residents to offer unpaid and job-protected leave for how long they need. It means no other employees shall fill your position, but you are not being paid during the time off work.
Instead of maternity leave in Texas, you can apply for parental leave under the FMLA. It provides up to 12 weeks of time off for:
- New parents of biological children;
- New parents of foster children; and
- New parents of adopted children.
The purpose of parental leave is to let you bond with your newborn child. This type of leave is unpaid. You can apply for and use this leave within one year of your new child’s arrival. For instance, if you adopt a child in February, you can 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 for any paid vacation time you have accrued toward that time off.
Things get complicated here because Texas laws do not have any overarching disability laws or family medical leave, as many parents have discovered.
You can only use accrued leave if your employer’s policy covers why you are leaving. If you give birth and cannot work for two weeks because you are physically unable to return, you would probably qualify for sick leave. But once you are no longer ill and can continue working, you cannot substitute sick days for your 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 of the child entering the home. This is also unpaid leave.
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 for vacation or sick leave or set up parental leave to align with summer or Christmas vacation.
Every school district differs in what they allow and at what point leave is paid or unpaid. Moreover, different school districts have different schedules. Teachers should be aware of the individual work schedule and how they can use it with parental leave to their advantage.
How To Apply for Paid Maternity Leave in Texas?
Currently, it’s impossible to apply for paid maternity leave in Texas. If your company provides some form of paid maternity leave, you will need to speak with your HR department to figure out how to apply for leave at your company.
If your company offers paid maternity leave, it is likely to be a maximum of a couple of weeks long, but that time can usually be merged with other qualifying sick leave or vacation days.
You can find more information on their website if you want to apply for parental leave under FMLA Texas. Texas state websites do not provide any links to apply for parental leave. Instead, they list the qualifications for it and what the laws are.
Texas is 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 form of maternity, paternity, or parental leave.
An interesting & very useful legal newsletter