Maternity and Postpartum Tips for Success
Pregnant? Congratulations! It’s such an exciting time. ALPA would like to help you with this journey to make the maternity and postpartum experience as easy as possible. Balancing your career and family life can be challenging, and we would like to provide you and your family all the available resources to help you navigate the route back to the line.
You are permitted to fly while pregnant as long as you are fit to fly; however, the decision to continue to fly or when to stop flying should be made under the guidance of your OBGYN. Pregnancy-related topics and tips for success include planning, keeping thorough records, using the right resources, and asking a lot of questions. Although every family experience is unique depending on your individual family situation, please remember that you are not alone. Many airline pilots before you have been through this journey.
Eligible Company Maternity Related Leave
Once you stop flying during your pregnancy, you may be eligible to use various paid and unpaid leave options. Maternity leave benefits, disability benefits, and personal leave of absence policies vary depending on your airline. Please refer to your MEC website for more information and ask for assistance in contacting your airline’s claim administrator, flight operations manager, or HR department about maternity leave and disability benefits.
State Paid Family Leave
State paid family leave (PFL) is a paid leave benefit provided by state law to care for a family member. The use of state PFL is governed by the laws of the state in which you are based, not where you reside.
Six states—California, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia—have passed family paid leave laws to date (as of March 2019). Please refer to your state law for more information.
FMLA: Family Leave of Absence
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides certain employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. It also requires that group health benefits be maintained during the leave.
FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable unpaid leave for certain family and medical needs including maternity leave and the birth and care of the newborn child. Please note that time taken off work due to pregnancy complications can be counted against the 12 weeks of family and medical leave.
For more information, please view these resources from the Department of Labor:
- Family and Medical Leave
- Fact Sheet #28A: Employee Protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act
COBRA requires the continuation of health-care coverage to be offered to covered employees, their spouses, former spouses, and dependent children when group health coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain specific events like pregnancy. COBRA continuation coverage is often more expensive than the amount that active employees are required to pay for group health coverage, since the employer usually pays part of the cost of employees’ coverage; however, compare the rate and make decisions whether to opt in for COBRA. If you elect COBRA, you must pay the full cost of the coverage. Contact your company’s benefits administrator/HR department for specific rate.
For more information, visit the Department of Labor COBRA page.
- COBRA is typically available when an employee loses employment, (i.e. terminated or laid off).
- Typically, pilots on maternity leave do not go on COBRA. More often, they automatically transition to INACTIVE RATES per their group plan.
- It is more appropriate to advise pilots their health insurance rates may increase to a higher premium when on extended leaves of absence rather than suggest they will be on COBRA.
Postpartum Challenges: Anxiety or Depression
Pilot Peer Support (PPS) connects ALPA members with trained pilot peers to talk about any personal or professional problems you may be experiencing. PPS volunteers listen and offer confidential, nonjudgmental support. Speak with a PPS peer about any concerns that may threaten your medical certificate, career, and life. Peers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Contact PPS.