Money·3 min read

theSkimm on Parental Leave

Parental Leave
November 25, 2019

The Story

Bringing home a new baby means you’re suddenly responsible for things you probably weren’t before. Like all the needs of a tiny human. And maybe figuring out how to replace your paycheck while you’re OOO.

Wait, isn’t that my company’s job?

Magic 8-Ball says...not likely. Only 17% of US workers have access to paid family leave. So your first move is to ask your HR department what’s on the table...aka how much they’ll pay you and for how long. If you can, follow that up by phoning a coworker friend who’s recently gone on leave to see if they negotiated a better package. If so, give that a shot.

If your company doesn’t offer much, or anything at all, check if you’re already signed up for short-term disability coverage.

I know what short-term disability is...I just want to hear you say it.

It’s an insurance plan that’ll pay at least a portion of your salary while you’re away from your desk recovering from an injury or illness. That includes child birth. A lot of companies include short-term disability insurance as part of their benefits package, so you may already have it. If not, you may be able to buy a policy from a private insurer. But read the fine print. If you’re already pregnant, it may be tough to qualify.

And if I’m out of luck there, too?

Ask your boss if there are any other options. Like using all your PTO and sick days for the year, so you don’t have to go without a paycheck the whole time. Then start budgeting to save as much money as possible before your baby comes.

Related: theSkimm on How to Save More Money, Faster

Does the gov have anything to say about all this?

Yes and no. The US is the only developed country that doesn’t promise parents paid leave. But some states – California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island – offer partially paid parental leave that could replace a percentage of your income. A few others – Washington, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Oregon – are joining them soon.  

And for everyone else?

Uncle Sam may not sign your paycheck...but he does think you should get some time off work to bond with a new baby. Hi, Family and Medical Leave Act. FMLA keeps your job safe for up to 12 weeks, so you’ve got something to go back to. Because it’s the gov, there are rules.


Going OOO to take care of your baby is important. But it’s not cheap. And, unless you live in one of just a few states, the gov isn’t swooping in to save the day. Start planning your leave by understanding any work benefits you’re eligible for ASAP. Then follow that up with some smart budgeting and saving to help fill in the gaps. So it’s just your baby, not your bank account, who’s keeping you up at night.

Related: Start Spending Smarter

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