Questions to Ask HR About Maternity Leave

Treat your initial meeting with Human Resources with them as a fact-finding mission. Take notes throughout the conversation, and send an email afterward confirming your understanding of the policy. This is especially important since few companies have a comprehensive policy in writing. (Scroll down for a printable list!)

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How You Get Paid During Maternity Leave

  • What is the maximum amount of time away, including extended unpaid time, that the company allows?
    • Do I have flexibility in how I use that time? (Can I use some toward working part-time weeks when you return?)
    • Can I reserve some of my leave for later?
  • How much of my salary will I receive while I am out on leave?
  • Does my equity continue to vest while I’m on parental leave? (This is especially important if your equity represents a large portion of your compensation.)
  • If you are in a state that affords parental leave: Does that leave occur concurrently with any employer-sponsored leave, or is it sequential?
  • If you have incentive-based compensation, how does that work?
    • Am I still eligible for my full bonus, or is it a pro-rata share?
    • How will commissions be paid out while I am on leave?

How Benefits Are Handled While on Maternity Leave

  • How is my health insurance paid for while I’m on leave? (If your leave is unpaid, you may have to mail in a check for your portion of your health insurance.) What about contributions to flexible spending accounts?
  • If you have life insurance or disability insurance through your company: How is my life insurance paid?
  • Do I accrue benefits while out on leave? (Ask about retirement fund contributions, vacation days or sick days, time toward a sabbatical, and any other benefits your employer may offer.)
  • What are the terms of my short-term disability coverage? What happens if I have medical complications and need to leave early?
    • How much of my salary will I receive?
    • Will this count as part of my maternity leave?

The Nitty Gritty Logistics of Maternity Leave

  • What forms do I need to complete, and when?
    • When is the FMLA form due?
    • Is there a form for Short-Term Disability?
  • When do I need to finalize my departure and return to work dates? 
  • How do I add my child to my health insurance and make other open enrollment changes (like flexible spending account elections)? What is the deadline for doing this?
  • Do you offer a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account? How does that work?
  • How do I add my child as a beneficiary on my retirement account and employer-provided life insurance?

Your Return to Work After Maternity Leave

  • Does the company allow teleworking or flex-time?
  • Are there mother’s rooms or other facilities for pumping moms? (Ask to see it; you can find a checklist of things to look for in the appendix.)
  • Are there any other benefits for new parents that I should be aware of?