Birth of a Child
Many questions arise from the birth of a child.
Legal Background - Federal, State and Local Regulations
The Federal Level: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to twelve workweeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth. FMLA also provides for adoption leave, leave to care for sick family members, leave for a serious health condition and leave to care for a family member who is part of the armed services. The FMLA is specifically written to allow for leaves because of a certified disability. Only work weeks, not vacation weeks, are counted under an FMLA leave.
The State Level: Section 105D
Massachusetts General Laws (MGL), Title XXI, Chapter 149, Section 105D provides for eight weeks of maternity or adoption leave. The employee must give at least two weeks’ notice to her employer of her anticipated date of departure and intention to return. After her leave, she shall be restored to her previous, or a similar, position with the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority, wherever applicable, as of the date of her leave. Said maternity leave may be with or without pay at the discretion of the employer.
The Wayland Level: Our Contract
Our contract includes language about this topic under the section on Sick Leave (Article VII, Section A, paragraph 3). Essentially, this paragraph references the eight weeks provided by the Commonwealth. Recovery from childbirth as well as disability resulting from childbirth are included in this period. The inclusion of this topic under the sick leave section provides the mechanism to use accumulated sick leave days to pay for this leave.
Case Histories: The nuances of maternity leave are sometimes better understood with case histories.
Case History A: A woman delivers her baby on June 20th. Because she will be on summer vacation for the next two months, the 8 weeks of leave do not apply. If she wishes to take 12 weeks of FMLA leave, she may. For example, if she wishes to take September and October as unpaid leave, she may. Her job is protected, and the Town will continue to pay their portion of any health care premiums.
Case History B: The child is born on December 15th; eight calendar weeks would cover the mother up until February 9th. The days that school is out for the winter holidays still count as recovery days. Should there be other medical complications for the mother, and a doctor advises that she is unable to work, that period can be extended for medical reasons. If the mother has accumulated sick days, she may draw from them during this period for each day (i.e., teaching day) that she is out of work.
Case History C: A teacher is having a baby at the beginning of August and would like to take the first semester off. Her paid sick leave (Mass Medical Leave Act) begins the day she has her baby and continues for eight consecutive weeks. Sick time can only be used while school is in session. In this case, the teacher could collect a three to four weeks in September of paid leave. Her Federal Medical Leave Act sick leave begins the day that school starts and continues for 12 weeks. She could carry her insurance policy through those 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks she would then have to pay the entire premium until she returned to work. After 12 weeks expire all other time off would need to be requested from administration and approved. Ideally this is arranged prior to the beginning of the school year.
Case History D: A teacher has approximately 40 sick days accrued and is planning on using her days to cover her MMLA leave (maternity leave) of eight consecutive weeks after she has her baby. She experiences some complications and her doctor puts her on bed rest for a month and a half prior to her due date. In this case, she will use up her accrued sick days half way through her maternity leave. Once her eight calendar weeks are nearly up she must apply in writing for the specific amount of days she will need for the remainder of the eight weeks from the WTA Sick Bank. After those eight weeks she may take another four weeks unpaid of FMLA leave at any time within one calendar year of having her baby. She does not need to repay the sick bank. Every WPS teacher donates days to the sick bank annually so that the WTA may extend this benefit to those in need of sick days.
FAQs: Follow this link for answers to Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ 1: If I do not have Professional Teacher Status (PTS), may I still take the leave? Yes, you may still take the 8 weeks leave.
FAQ 2: If I do not have PTS, will the time I miss while on leave affect the date when I reach PTS?
FAQ 3: If I do not have enough sick leave accrued to cover the days I will be out of school, is the Sick Leave Bank available to me? You may apply to the Sick Leave Bank for extra days to cover beyond what you have accumulated.
FAQ 4: Should there be medical complications for the mother, and a doctor advises that said mother is unable to work, that 8-week period can be extended.
FAQ 5: Child Rearing Leave:
A leave of absence without pay of up to one (1) year will be granted to a teacher for the purpose of child rearing. The COMMITTEE may require that the teacher remain on the leave until the September following the expiration of the year. At the conclusion of child rearing leave, the teacher will be returned to a position unless the teacher has been reduced-in-force pursuant to ARTICLE XXI. A teacher progressing toward professional status who is on child rearing leave will be returned if reappointed and if there is a vacancy for which h/she is qualified. The COMMITTEE will not be required to non-reappoint a teacher progressing toward professional status who is senior to a teacher on child rearing leave in order to return a teacher progressing toward professional status from child rearing leave. (Pg 10: Article VII, Section C, Paragraph 4, Part (a) of contract)
What this means is that a teacher, male or female, can apply for and take up to a year of child rearing leave time and return to a position, not necessarily the same exact position but an equivalent one, when the child rearing leave is done. This is an unpaid leave, and the responsibility for paying health insurance is assumed by the parent.
FAQ 6: How do I apply for a maternity leave? Write a letter to the superintendent. Include the expected due date and expected date for which you want your leave to begin. Due to the nature of pregnancy it is understood that the date given is an approximation.
FAQ 7: What if I need more than eight weeks of leave time? The FMLA provides for up to 12 weeks of time. Is this paid? Can the Town require that I take more than 12 weeks of leave if the timing of the leave negatively affects a school schedule such as the days near the end of school?
An eligible employee may be entitled to up to twelve (12) weeks of unpaid leave of absence per contract year due to the serious health condition of a member of his/her immediate family. Fact sheets from the Department of Labor which describe the terms of this leave are available from the Business Office. An eligible employee shall apply in writing for such a leave at least four (4) weeks in advance of such leave, unless extenuating circumstances prevent such notice, in which case the employee shall provide as much notice as possible. While an employee is on approved FMLA leave, the Committee shall continue its contribution toward the employee’s health insurance, if the employee is insured through the School Department, provided that the employee makes timely contribution toward health insurance. (Pg 9: Article VII, Section C, Paragraph 1, Part (c) of contract)
FMLA Leave Notice Return to Work – An employee on FMLA leave shall notify the Superintendent at least four (4) weeks prior to his/her scheduled date of return from leave whether or not s/he intends to return to work. (Pg 11: Article VII, Section H, of contract)
What this means is that if a mother still has unused FMLA time, (federal law grants up to 12 weeks per year) she may take up to that much time unpaid, but continue to have a position guaranteed at school, and continue to have the Town cover its portion of health insurance. FMLA time is counted only during work weeks, so vacation times do not detract from the 12 weeks a person is eligible to take.
FAQ 8: What are new fathers entitled to? Birth fathers shall be granted five personal days within the first year of the child’s birth. (Pg 11: Article VII, Section C, Paragraph 4, Part (b) of contract)
FAQ 9: Is there an adoption leave? A paid leave of absence not to exceed thirty (30) school days, to be deducted from accumulated sick leave, will be granted to a teacher for the purpose of attending to the adoption of his/her child. In the event that both adoptive parents are the employees of the school district, then the thirty days will be the total for both parents. (Pg 10: Article VII, Section C, Paragraph 5, of contract)