Is my nonprofit organization required to provide maternity leave?
Answered by: Sharon Thomas

There are two things to consider: what is required by law, and then what is best practice.

The Family Medical Leave Act requires employers with more than 50 non-seasonal employees to grant 12 weeks unpaid leave for a range of reasons, including maternity leave. Essentially, the employee is not paid, but their job is secured.

South Carolina's Human Affairs Law, which applies to employers of 15 or more, requires that pregnancy be treated as any other temporary disability, and bars employment discrimination on that basis.

This is why best practices are important, because the law only ever sets the minimum standard. Many employers will allow an employee to use accrued Paid Time Off (PTO) (some employers still separate this into vacation and sick leave, but this is becoming less common) for Family Medical Leave, with the balance of the 12 weeks after all PTO is used being unpaid. Some employers allow additional paid Family Medical Leave.

Whatever you decide, you should consider putting it into writing, either in your Personnel Manual or as a policy adopted by your board of directors.