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Can you request unpaid leave as a pregnant employee in Texas?

Congratulations! You’re pregnant and embarking on a beautiful new chapter of life. As your excitement grows, so might the questions about work.

In Texas, where state law doesn’t mandate paid maternity leave, many expecting mothers wonder: Can I request unpaid leave? The answer is yes, with some caveats.

Understanding the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal legislation governing unpaid leave for pregnancy and childbirth. It applies to companies with 50 or more employees. To be eligible for FMLA leave, you must have worked for the company for at least 12 months and fulfilled a minimum of 1,250 hours during that period.

If you meet these criteria, the FMLA entitles you to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. This leave can be taken all at once, in smaller chunks or intermittently, as your pregnancy and post-partum needs dictate. Importantly, the FMLA protects your job during this leave, and you’re entitled to return to the same or an equivalent position upon your return.

Here’s where it gets even better: You can combine FMLA leave with other forms of leave offered by your employer. This could include accrued sick leave, vacation time or short-term disability benefits (if applicable).

Beyond FMLA: Exploring additional options

While FMLA provides a strong foundation, it doesn’t cover all situations. Thankfully, there are some additional options to consider for unpaid leave in Texas.

If your pregnancy complications qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you may be entitled to additional unpaid leave beyond FMLA. Consult your doctor for guidance on obtaining the necessary documentation.

Texas might not mandate paid maternity leave, but you have options for unpaid leave under federal law and potentially through your employer’s policies. By understanding your rights and planning effectively, you can confidently navigate this crucial time. Remember, you can explore legal resources to help you on this journey should questions or complications arise.