It is natural for any new parent to be concerned about the parental leave options open to them in their place of work. Your company's policies, combined with federal law, will determine how much time you are able to take off to get to know your new child and adjust to life as a family. Below are some tips on how to navigate the changing world of parental leave.
There was a time when adoptive families might have had some trouble getting the time they needed off of work. Parental leave was mostly designated for women who gave birth, and even then there was no laws forcing companies to be humane in their offerings.
Thankfully, the Family and Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993. This act had some wide-reaching repercussions for families and businesses alike, but the important ones for adoptive parents to know are this: If you work for a qualified employer, they are required to allow you as much as 12 weeks of leave per year. This leave is not mandated to be paid (though some companies do offer a percentage of pay for a few weeks after certain life events, such as a new child), but it does guarantee that you will have a job to return to.
To qualify for FMLA, you must have worked at your job for at least 12 months, for at least 1250 hours in the past year. The employer must also have at least 50 employees within 75 miles of the employee's worksite (including at the worksite itself) to be bound by FMLA.
It is important to have an open line of communication between yourself and the HR department at your place of employment. Human resources is there to help you and your company stay within legal guidelines while ensuring everyone is getting the most out of the policies in place. Some workplace leave policies can be difficult to navigate, and the HR department should be happy to help.
When talking to HR about your upcoming adoption, be sure to ask if the company offers paid parental leave, and at what percentage that is, and for how long. Knowing this going into your extended leave can help you plan financially for your time away. If you are completing an inter-state adoption, be sure your workplace understands that you will likely have to leave suddenly when the child is born, and due to ICPC regulations, might end up in the birth state for a week or more until the proper paperwork is completed. Being open about what is expected can help both you and your employer plan ahead and make a smooth transition into your leave as well as your return.