Can a company force you to work during your maternity leave?

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Can a company force you to work during your maternity leave?

My wife is currently pregnant and scheduled to go on maternity leave after the baby is born. The

company is forcing her to sign papers stating that she will work Saturdays during her leave.

Asked on March 11, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If she is using FMLA leave (assuming she is eligible for it), then she cannot be forced to work while on maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees up to 12 weeks of maternity leave without having to work on leave, and to force an employee to work while on that leave is to violate the law--i.e. it is illegal. If she is forced to work while on FMLA leave, she could contact the state or federal department of labor about filing a complaint.
But if she is not eligible or not using FMLA leave, but rather her company is voluntarily allowing her to take maternity leave (in your state, there is no state maternity leave law, so unless you are using FMLA, you have no right to such leave; it would be voluntary for the employer to grant leave) they can set requirements or obligations on it, such as that she will work on Saturday. Anything given voluntarily by an employer (i.e. something the law does not require them to do), the employer may put limitations or restrictions on.
You and yor wife can find the eligibility requirements for FMLA leave on the U.S. Dept. of Labor website, under "Family and Medical Leave Act." 


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