Paid Maternity Leave: Louisiana
Louisiana law mandates that employers of a certain size allow unpaid maternity leave. Smaller companies are not required to provide maternity leave time. There are no mandates for paid leave time in Louisiana; possible paid benefits are at the discretion of the employer. Louisiana laws only protect the mother's ability to return to her work after the leave is over, as well as outlining the amount of unpaid leave time that may be requested.
The Louisiana Fair Employment Practices (FEP) Act
- The Louisiana Fair Employment Practices (FEP) Act requires employers with more than 25 employees in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year to provide female employees up to four months’ accrued vacation leave for any disability caused by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
- Employers are required to provide leave up to six weeks for normal pregnancies, and up to four months or more for seriously disabling pregnancies.
- According to the act, the leave may be paid if available at the employer's discretion, otherwise it would be unpaid.
- The employer has the right to request a written notice of the pregnancy or related disability, including a doctor’s certificate, the expected date the leave will begin, and date of return to work.
- The act ensures that employees returning from maternity leave will be placed in the same or comparable position, consistent with staffing and business requirements.
- This leave may run concurrently with the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act or any other leave where permitted by state and federal law. The parents may therefore request time off work under both Louisiana's state and federal laws, whichever is more beneficial.
Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
- Louisiana employers are subject to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if they have at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.
- Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if: they have worked for the company for at least a year, they worked at least 1,250 hours during the previous year, and they work at a location with at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius.
- Employees may take up to 12 weeks leave in a 12-month period under the FMLA.
- Employees are entitled to continue their health insurance while on leave, at the same cost as while working.
- Leave taken under FMLA leave is unpaid, but employees may be allowed (or required) to use their accrued paid leave during an FMLA leave depending on the employer.
Paid Leave Provisions: Louisiana and New York
- Contrary to New York, there is no mandated paid maternity leave in Louisiana. Potential paid leave is up to the discretion of the employer.
- Beginning in 2018, New York mandated 8 weeks paid maternity leave, with the weeks increasing to 12 by 2021.
New York Paid Family Leave
- Paid Family Leave is available for employees who work in New York State, regardless of where the employee lives, or where the company is headquartered.
- Under New York laws, all private sector employers must offer 10 weeks unpaid family leave to all employees.
- New York leave is typically 6-8 weeks for disability due to pregnancy and a further 10 weeks of parental leave one time for new parents.
- Paid leave amounts fall under temporary disability and parental leave. For temporary disability, up to 50% of salary (up to $170 per week) is funded by employee and employer contributions. Parental leave consists of up to 60% of average salary (up to $840.70 per week), and is funded by payroll deductions.
We began our research by looking up Louisiana's maternity leave laws. It appears Louisiana does not mandate any form of paid maternity leave. The state only mandates that unpaid leave time be granted by companies of a certain size. Louisiana laws seem to pertain only to company size, and not where the company is headquartered. We then looked into New York maternity laws, since that is where the client's company is headquartered, to determine if New York laws may be applicable. It appears that if the client is still working for the company, such as remotely, that she may be able to make a case that the New York's mandated paid maternity leave laws would apply, since the law states it does not matter where the employee lives. It appears that in Louisiana, paid leave is at the discretion of the employer. As such, it appears to be in the client's best interest to approach her New York employer, and ask them to consider offering paid maternity benefits similar to those mandated by the state of New York.