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Returning to work after baby: What should you expect?

Having a baby is unquestionably one of the most important times of your life. Staying home to take care of your new family member is essential. However, once your Family Medical Leave of Absence is up, you may choose to return to work.

Before going back to work, you might wonder what the environment will be like. Has your job changed? Will you still have the same responsibilities? Will you have the same rate of compensation? It is reassuring to know what to expect before returning to your job.

What is FMLA and who qualifies?

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, FMLA allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks off of work in 12 months to care for a new baby or handle other specific family situations. To qualify, you must have worked for the company for at least one year, worked at least 1,250 hours and worked for an employer that has at least 50 employees before you qualify for FMLA benefits.

What happens when returning to work?

Once you come back to work, your employer must either give you the same job you had before you left or an equivalent job. The following must also remain the same:

  • The job must involve similar duties, skill, effort, authority and responsibility
  • The job must offer identical pay, including overtime, bonuses and premium pay
  • The just must offer equivalent benefits, such as health insurance, stock options, sick leave, life insurance and vacation
  • The job must offer the same work schedule, shifts and approximate location

If you choose to take a different shift or wish to have a change of responsibilities, you can talk to your employer about changing positions. It is unlawful for any employer to deny you these benefits when taking approved medical leave.

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