pregnant woman sitting holding her belly

Are You Still Entitled to Maternity Leave if You’re Working from Home?

While the trend of working from home (WFH) had already been on the rise in recent times, the coronavirus, forced many employees to turn to that alternative indefinitely. Check out MOWK Partner Brian Wagner discuss his change in office and wardrobe here.  

But even with New York “opening up” in attempts to restore its economy, some employers are continuing to have their employees work from home. One concern for employees with this new WFH reality is whether the benefits and policies that apply to them as in-office employees remain the same now that they’re not physically in the workplace. Specifically, pregnant women wonder whether they’re entitled to maternity leave when working from home. 

Remote Work Policy and Remote Work Agreements

Whether an employer foresees all or some of its employees working from home on a temporary or more permanent basis, a remote work policy or agreement provides clarity; it gives employees information on the procedures, expectations, rights, and responsibilities of a remote work assignment. If your company has a policy or you signed an agreement, then it could contain information about things like leave and accommodations and will determine your standing.

Underlying Eligibility

If you’re working remotely, it doesn’t mean that the usual employment laws don’t apply: Generally, you have the same rights that you had prior to working from home, and it is acceptable to apply all workplace policies to remote workers. If you were otherwise entitled to maternity leave, then that doesn’t change just because you’re a WFH employee. If your employer has a specific policy on parental leave, then the expectations about the leave are determined by this. 

Rights to Paid or Unpaid Time Off

Most parents rely on a mash-up of several laws to serve as their time for maternity leave, including the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees the right to a total of up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to take care of a family member or to take care of a serious health condition. New York has its own version of this federal law.  

Additionally, the pandemic has triggered legislation. If you’re an employee who isn’t able to work due to coronavirus sickness or quarantined and have coronavirus symptoms, you may be eligible for two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Eligible employees can also take up to 12 weeks of paid leave (at two thirds pay) to care for a child whose child-care provider or school is closed/unavailable due to coronavirus. These provisions expire on December 31, 2020. 

Multiple State Laws Issues

The state laws always apply to the location in which the employees work and reside. For instance, if you’re working remotely in New York and then want to move, it could affect your maternity leave options. First, some companies will not allow you to work from anywhere that you want. Also, not all states have their own FMLA laws like New York. 

New York Employment Lawyer

To understand your rights, it’s crucial to understand exactly which laws apply to you. Anytime you’re pregnant or about to become a new parent, you’re concerned about balancing your professional life with your personal life. However, in this unpredictable time of a pandemic, it’s even more stressful to work out these things. That is why you can turn to the New York employment lawyers at MOWK Law to help with any employer or employee parental leave questions. Contact us to discuss your specific circumstances.