5 Questions To Ask Your Human Resources Department When Pregnant
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5 Questions To Ask Your Human Resources Department When Pregnant

When you're pregnant, there are certain questions you should ask your work's human resources (HR) department regarding maternity leave.

Updated April 19, 2024

by Meredith Rines

Accountant and Certified Financial Planner
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Alright, mama — it’s getting close, and you know your maternity leave is right around the corner! It’s time to ensure you get answers to all your questions before it’s too late. When you’re pregnant, there are specific questions to ask your human resources (HR) department regarding maternity leave and your job, from paying health insurance costs to adding baby to your health insurance. We’ll explore the most important topics to discuss with HR below.

5 Questions To Ask Human Resources When Pregnant

Here are five questions you need to discuss with your HR department before your baby arrives:

1. Will I Have a Job When I Return?

If your employer must comply with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), your current position is protected for up to 12 weeks. However, you do have to meet certain requirements: you must have worked for 12 months and a total of 1,250 hours during the last 12-month period.1 If your employer has to comply with FMLA and you qualify, then your Human Resources Officer will have forms that your doctor or midwife needs to complete.

If your employer does not have to comply with FMLA, this would be a good time to ask, “Will I have a job when I return?” Most employers will want to work with you to ensure you have a position when you come back. You might have to work with them to create a plan for who will handle your daily and weekly tasks while you’re away or if they will bring in a temporary worker while you’re gone.

2. Will I Be Paid for My Maternity Leave?

Paid maternity leave is up to each employer and their policies. It is not a requirement from the federal government.2 When you’re pregnant, you will need to sit down with your human resources department and ask them this question directly. Or you can do research in the company handbook.

If your employer does not offer paid leave, you might qualify for short-term disability. You should talk with your insurance agent to get more details. The only catch with a short-term disability is that you have to sign up before you’re pregnant.

3. What Happens to My Benefits While I’m on Maternity Leave?

Will I need to pay for my health insurance coverage? Will my 401(k) continue?

Don’t worry! Your employer cannot stop your benefits. If you receive paid maternity leave, the amount regularly taken from your paycheck to cover health insurance and retirement benefits will continue. However, you may have to pay the health insurance costs directly if you receive unpaid maternity leave.4

4. How Do I Add My Baby to My Health Insurance After They’re Born?

More than likely, you will need to ask your Human Resources Officer this question when you’re pregnant. You don’t need to worry about adding your baby until after they arrive. The insurance company will need your baby’s date of birth and name to add them to your plan.

If there are additional costs to your plan for adding a new family member, you will need to pay the difference or have it withheld from your paycheck. During the birth, your child is placed under the mother’s name and listed as one patient — the mother. If, for some reason, your child is admitted to the NICU or kept longer than the mother, then it is a separate incident and will be billed to the child’s name.

5. How Long Is My Paid Maternity Leave? What Happens if I Want To Take the Full 12 Weeks?

Maternity leave means two different things: recovery from childbirth and bonding with your newborn. Under FMLA, the mother gets 12 weeks for both parts.1,3 So, just because your doctor says you can return to work after six weeks, you can get an additional six weeks under FMLA.

Each employer can offer a variety of paid or unpaid maternity leave. You could have paid coverage for four, six, eight, or even 12 weeks. Your doctor may also require you to take longer than your office provides. If that is the case, notify your employer or your Human Resources Officer as soon as possible.

Hopefully, this list of questions to ask about maternity leave has prepared you to have a conversation with your HR department. Remember, when you’re pregnant, your Human Resources Officer is the best place to start if you have questions regarding maternity leave or to notify your employer when you might want to start your leave. Best of luck, mama!

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  • Author
Meredith Rines, MBA, CFP®
Meredith Rines Accountant and Certified Financial Planner
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Wife, Mom, MBA, Certified Financial Planner, and a budget and financial strategist helping families pay off debt and live the life they've always wanted. Meredith resides in Missouri with her… Read more

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