Understanding Pregnancy Disability Leave in Ohio
Aug. 28, 2023
If you’re an employee who is pregnant or looking to adopt a child, there are programs that will allow leave time for the birth or adoption. Depending on the size of the business for which you work, different federal and state laws may apply. The grandaddy of all these laws is the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but an employer must have 50 or more employees on the payroll within a 75-mile radius to fall under FMLA’s umbrella.
The Ohio Civil Rights Act, in contrast, covers employers with four or more employees and requires covered employers to provide a “reasonable” period of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, but doesn’t define reasonable. Two federal laws may also apply for employees seeking time off for childbirth—the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). Both apply to businesses with 15 or more employees.
If you are an employee who believes your rights to leave for childbirth have been violated in or around Dayton, Ohio, or you’re an employer with questions and concerns about pregnancy leave, contact us at Duwel Law.
Our employment law attorneys can assist you, whether employee or employer, in understanding all applicable laws when it comes to pregnancy and childbearing leave rights. We also proudly serve clients throughout Montgomery County, Miami County, Greene County, Darke County, and Warren County.
What Is Pregnancy Disability Leave in Ohio?
Unless you work for the state government and are covered under the Ohio Revised Code Section 124.136, taking leave for pregnancy and childbirth is generally unpaid. If you’re not a state employee, then the Ohio Civil Rights Act applies. This act, which applies to employers with four or more employees, prohibits employers from penalizing workers because they need time off for pregnancy or childbirth.
If the company has a leave policy, an employee must be given a reasonable amount of leave for childbearing, but the employee must meet the requirements of the leave policy to be eligible. For instance, the policy might require continuous employment for six months to qualify for leave.
If there is no company leave policy, the Ohio Civil Rights Act requires that employees needing time off for childbirth must be given a reasonable period of leave for pregnancy, but it never defines reasonable. The act also requires that employees being given time off for pregnancy and childbirth be reinstated to their job upon return.
In other words, when it comes to the Ohio Civil Rights Act and the pregnancy/childbearing leave rights of employees, as well as the responsibilities of employers, there is a bit of a grey area in terms of what is considered reasonable.
Federal Laws for Pregnancy/Childbirth Leave
All other avenues for taking leave for pregnancy and childbirth in Ohio are based on federal laws.
The Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, adoption, or fostering.
Only employers with 50 or more employees in a 75-mile radius are covered under the FMLA. Employees too must qualify. An employee must have worked 1,250 hours in the previous 12-month period to qualify. To account for seasonal employment, the 12 months do not have to be consecutive.
Both parents can take leave for childbirth, nurturing of a newborn, or adoption, but not at the same time if they work for the same company. The 12 weeks of leave also do not have to be consecutive, but can be broken up.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
Two other federal statutes may also apply to pregnant workers. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which covers employers with 15 or more employees, doesn’t have a direct pregnancy/childbirth leave provision, but it requires employers to treat employees who can’t work due to pregnancy the same as other workers who are temporarily disabled; for instance, those employees who face an extended illness or are recovering from injuries in a car accident.
The PDA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees needing such accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions. Under the law, time off might be considered a reasonable accommodation.
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) is relatively new, having taken effect on June 27, 2023. The act’s government watchdog agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is still issuing regulations concerning the PWFA.
The act covers employers with 15 or more employees. Like the PDA, the PDFA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Details are still emerging.
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) oversees the Ohio Civil Rights Act. Employees who feel their rights have been violated under the law can file a complaint with the OCRC. When it comes to the FMLA, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) have oversight and can investigate abuses and even take legal action against an employer.
We Fight for Your Rights
Whether you’re an employer or an employee, you have certain rights under all laws affecting matters of leave for pregnancy and childbirth. At Duwel Law, our employment law attorneys can help you understand and exercise your rights and responsibilities under the Ohio Civil Rights Act, the FMLA, or any other relevant statute.
If you have questions or concerns about pregnancy/childbirth leave laws in or around Dayton, Ohio, contact us at Duwel Law immediately.