According to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health, approximately 273,000 women in the US took maternity leave every month, on average, between 1994 and 2015. What is rather interesting to see is that this trend has remained stagnant for the past 22 years, and has shown no downward or upward move during this time, said CBS News in January 2017. The bonding time between a mother and her child during pregnancy and at birth is irreplaceable.

The report also stated that 47.5% women who took maternity leave in 2015 in America were compensated for, representing a 0.26% increase year over year.

Interestingly, the number of men who have started to take paternity leave has drastically increased. In comparison with 5,800 US men in 1994, 22,000 men per month took paternity leave in 2015.

The reason not many women are considering maternity leave is that they fear that even if they take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), they could face retaliation, where an employer could harasses and create a hostile work environment for them, based on the employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or medical condition.

According to leading attorneys in Austin of The Law Offices of Quentin Nichols, a leading firm of employment lawyers & discrimination attorneys in Austin and Houston, Texas (TX), the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects female employees and applicants from discrimination due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, which gives a woman every right to enjoy this beautiful phase of her life.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?

The federal government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993. The act provides eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid time off during the first 12 months after the birth of a child to care for the new born, or for specified family and medical reasons like an injury during birth, with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave.

Why Maternity Leave is Important

Maternity leave is important because women need time off for their child. Needless it say, it is the most exhausting time, but childbirth is also the most precious experience in a woman’s life. Spending time with the newborn is equally beneficial for the parents and the child.

Various studies have shown that when the mother takes out time to bond with her infant, it improves the physical and mental health of the mother as well. It encourages breastfeeding, reduces the risk of caesarean deliveries and can even save the infant’s life.

Taking time off work for pregnancy and child birth becomes more than important, since during this time, most women are sleep deprived, due to the unexpected sleeping and feeding patterns of the newborn. This leads to postpartum depression in more than 10% of the women. When a sleep deprived mother decides to go to work in the morning, she adds to the existing stress and anxiety levels. The added work load can lead to other health conditions like fatigue, headaches, chest pain, inability to breastfeed and relationship issues.

This restricts the woman from effectively bonding with her child, which is highly crucial for their child’s overall development.

If you or any of your female colleagues has faced Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) retaliation at the workplace, it is advisable to consult an FMLA retaliation attorney or an employment lawyer, such as those in Austin and Houston, Texas (TX).