In the US, one organization's HR policy for leave states that one is eligible for unpaid leave for medical reasons, including child birth, for a period of up to 12 weeks. However, the waiting period until one can take such leave is 12 months. In other words you have to remain a full time employee for a year before you can take the leave.

What if a person needs to go on maternity leave to give birth before the 12 month period elapses? Do they have to quit to do so? Or am I misinterpreting the HR policy? Thank you in advance.


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has certain requirements, including how long a person must be working before they are eligible. However, those are minimum requirements, and a company is allowed to be more generous.

If you find yourself in need of leave before you're officially eligible, your best best is to go to your manager or HR and ask. They may have a work-around or other ideas besides quitting. They may not. But it is company specific, and so asking your company is your best direction.

Also, there is still time to work, to add to that time worked. If you make yourself very useful in the next 6 months, they will be motivated to find a way to keep you, even if you haven't worked there a year before you need to take leave.

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    Thanks...though this doesn't sound too reassuring (the FMLA policy). I guess the idea is to prevent people from getting jobs just so they can have insurance pay for child birth, then quitting and remaining a stay-at-home parent. I wonder if there is research in countries where there is no waiting period, whether this pattern is actually observed. Besides, from a purely practical standpoint it seems unlikely that a 'free baby' is the goal of months of job search, scores of applications, cover letters, interviews, etc., only to throw it all away as soon as the baby arrives. Really...? – A.S Nov 17 '15 at 17:59
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    @Aymor, we actually had this happen at one of my jobs. Stay at home mom who said she wanted back into the work force, was already pregnant when hired but didn't tell us until it was painfully obvious, went on maternity leave after 4 months with us, never came back from maternity leave. – HLGEM Nov 17 '15 at 18:23
  • If anything, this says more about the holes in the US healthcare system and social safety net, than about the people who use the law in this way. I mean, if we are willing to setup our healthcare system in a way that leads to exorbitant inflation on healthcare costs (i.e. weaken population's ability to afford care), then leave a loophole or two, what is the problem - the system or those who make use of the loophole? Perhaps the fact that someone has to game the system in order to afford child birth indicates the system is only functioning in the way it should when it is gamed? Just a thought. – A.S Nov 17 '15 at 19:43
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    @Aymor - ah, but that is a different question! :) – thursdaysgeek Nov 17 '15 at 20:02
  • doesn't stop people from gaming it though, unsure about the US but I have seen people try pretty much anything to get a free ride. – Kilisi Nov 17 '15 at 22:05

You could take all your available PTO first. Also some states, such as CA, provide 6 weeks of Short-Term Disability for giving birth, which would count prior to the FMLA leave. Lastly, you could discuss alternatives with the HR department, such as taking a non-paid leave for a few weeks. It would probably depend how long before the 12 month period you need to take the leave.

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