I thought I would check in to shed a little light on Florida maternity leave laws. I was just over on the Florida Department of Labor web site and really learned a lot!
If you are a private sector employee, Florida has no laws that guarantee job protection or benefits for new parents. So if you are a private sector employee your best bet is probably to use the two federal laws that come into play for pregnant women and new parents. They are the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and also by the Family Medical Leave Act.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it illegal for employers to fire, refuse to hire, or deny a woman a promotion because she’s pregnant. Basically, she must be treated just like anyone else in the company! This goes for sick leave and disability too. If a company offers these things to other employees, then it also must offer them for pregnancy-related issues.
The Family Medical Leave Act allows private or public sector employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to, among other things, take care of a newborn baby or newly adopted child. One thing though—if you plan to take advantage of this act you have to work for an employer with more than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius.
It’s really important that you understand that this act doesn’t guarantee your job will be held. A provision designed to ease economic hardship for businesses allows companies to let you go during your leave if you are in the top 10 percent of highest paid employees. Before you get too worried, know that your company has to notify you before you go on leave that you are one of these employees. The company also has to give you the option of returning to work before your leave is up.
If you are a public sector employee in Florida you have another option. Florida state employees are entitled to a maximum of six months of unpaid parental or family leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, or to care for one’s own or a spouse’s pregnancy disability or recovery from childbirth.