As a pregnant and working Mom, one thing you need to prepare for is your maternity leave. You know you will be taking days off but how will you get paid? What are the options available and what do you have to do?
Most Moms are overwhelmed by the “process” – especially when you’re a first-time Mom like me – and always push it off until the very end to be prepared.
You don’t have to push it off. I am here to help you with the process.
This step-by-step guide was formed with you in mind and I hope you will be able to successfully plan your maternity leave that fits your needs and interests.
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1. Learn About Your Employer’s Maternity Leave Policies
The first thing you want to do is learn about your employer’s maternity leave policies and plans. I recommend researching your employer’s maternity leave policies the moment you find out you are pregnant. The sooner you are prepared, the sooner you know how to manage your time and finances.
There are three main types of maternity leave that may be available:
- Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA): An act that was signed into federal law requiring covered employers to provide 12 weeks of job-protected and unpaid leave. Note that this is ONLY for job protection and does not replace your income.
- Short Term Disability: In the event where you are unable to work, short term disability comes into play and covers your income during your time off. The replacement income “pay-out” may be based on a certain percentage depending on how long you’ve been employed. For example, with 6-12 months of employment, you may get 60% of your pay during short term disability. The pay-out may be determined by your employer, which is one additional reason why it’s good to research in advance!
- Company Paid Leave: Additional paid time off that is provided by your employer. Keep in mind, not all employers offer additional paid leave but in the event that they do, it’s always good to take advantage! Just like the icing on the cake!
You will want to make sure you write down the contact information of the disability vendor that handles FMLA, short term disability, AND your company’s paid leave program. It is always good to have it on hand in case you have any questions and for when you give birth – which will be further explained below.
Do keep in mind that some states also offer paid maternity leave as well. If you’re in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts or Rhode Island, find out what their programs offer!
2. Look At Your Paid Time-Off
If you plan to take any additional days off, you may want to calculate the amount of paid time-off that you have. Whether it’s one week of personal time or 2 weeks of vacation, the more you spend time with your little one the more you prolong Mommy and baby time!
3. Review Your Insurance Coverage
If you have a health insurance plan, you should read up on your maternity coverage. Having a baby costs money and you always want to make sure your hospital costs are covered. If not, then it’s never too early to plan your finances ahead!
Make sure you pay attention to the co-pay, co-insurance, deductible, and any other charges that you may have to pay out of pocket.
While we’re at it, don’t forget to check out your breastfeeding benefits as well! Here’s a hint, there’s something FREE that comes along with it.
4. Read About State or Federal Health Coverage Programs
If you’re not insured under an insurance plan, the State or Federal government may offer free healthcare coverage programs for pregnant Moms. Healthcare coverage may include Doctor visits, ultrasounds (may be limited), and other required care that the Doctor needs.
You may also find that there are additional programs available AFTER you give birth that can help with baby food and nutrition.
One well-known program is the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program that is offered to Moms, infants, and children. If you meet the requirements, you may receive infant formula, food and nutrition up until your child meets a certain age.
5. Plan Your Finances
As I mentioned above, having a baby costs money. You’ll be stuck with diapers, formula, baby wipes, clothes, baby gear, and all the necessities baby need!
And trust me, they’re not cheap.
You’re looking at diapers that rounds up to almost $10.00 a pack (or more) – that only lasts for a week or two! Or maybe $200-$300 for a crib! Or $30.00 for a container of formula? Now, that’s a lot!
That’s why it’s always good to plan early.
At minimum, I recommend saving up to $2,000.00. It will help cover any “emergencies” that may come ahead and you’ll be less worried when the time comes. The reason why I say this is because as you get closer to the end of pregnancy, you may encounter unexpected conditions that requires hospital care before labor. Not to mention labor costs!
Labor costs can spike up to $2,000 or $3,000 just to give birth in the hospital. That’s IF you only have one insurance plan. However, if you’re covered under two health insurance plans, you may be looking at the brighter side of labor costs.
If you want to start buying things for baby and also save, make sure you check out 10 Effective (and PROVEN) Ways to Save for Mothers. At this point, any opportunity that can help you save money will be a life saver. You’ll only be thankful that you were able to spend less!
By using the savings plan in my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY, you’ll be able track your weekly savings and make sure you have enough for all costs.
Don’t forget to grab it by subscribing below!
6. Plan Your Time on Leave
Once you’ve reviewed all your options for time off, you should compile your plan on paper – which will help you look at the bigger picture!
By using my Maternity Leave Plan in my Free Resource Library, you can plan how long you will be on short term disability, FMLA, company paid maternity leave, and your vacation time.
You can also calculate your finances by determining how much you’ll get paid during each leave and how much you’ll need to save for.
7. Notify Employer of Your Plans
Of course, as you get closer to your due date, you will need to notify your employer (whether it’s Human Resource or Management) of your plans. That way, it gives them enough time to find someone to do your work while you’re on leave and make any arrangements needed.
8. Open Claims with the Disability Vendor
To receive payment and job protection during your maternity leave, you will need to open a claim with the disability vendor. In most cases, it is within 30 days before your due date.
You will need to either call the vendor (which is why you should take note of your vendor’s contact information as mentioned under Step 1) or you can open a claim online. Most vendors offer online services where you can create an account, open a claim, and view information related to your claims.
When opening a claim, always take note of your Claim number. You will use it on several occasions and may have to provide it over the phone when you call the disability vendor.
9. Gather Your Documents
Now that you’ve opened a claim, gather your documents!
Documents may include insurance information, forms provided by the disability vendor, Doctor’s notes, your maternity leave plan, copies of mail that you received from the vendor, etc…
I recommend keeping a folder that has all your documents in one place that way it will be easy to find it when you need it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that FMLA may require some forms to be filled out by your Doctor, which means that you will have to make a trip to the Doctor’s office. Some offices require a fee up front for the Doctor to fill out your FMLA forms and some may not. If they don’t require a fee, you’re in luck!
Make sure you double check with your Doctor’s office so that you’re prepared before making that trip!
10. Notify Vendor of Baby’s Birth
As soon as you give birth, notify the disability vendor! Refer to my other post on 6 (Must-Do’s) After You Give Birth for more information. There are other things you MUST DO when baby arrives. Read! Read! Read! You won’t regret it!
Oh, and one more thing.
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