Having twins means a higher risk pregnancy, a longer recovery after birth, and two babies to care for once you get home.
It seems logical that you would get more time off to deal with these major changes. However, it’s never safe to assume.
Do you get extra maternity leave for twins? No, you do not get extra maternity leave with twins. In fact, the United States does not guarantee maternity leave for singletons or twins. You have to know the laws in your state and work with your employer to ensure you get time off. This time may be paid, unpaid, or a combination of the two.
There are ways to make your time off with your twins last longer, but you have to know the rules for your state and employer.
Your specific coverage and circumstances will make a huge impact on how long you will have to recover and bond after you give birth.
Maternity Leave for Twins
When it’s time to plan your leave, it’s important to know the specifics of what your state and employer will cover.
Varies by State and Employer
Since the United States does not offer universal maternity leave, how much leave you receive will be based on what state you live in and your employer.
It is unlikely that either will give you extra time for the birth of twins, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Family and Medical Leave Act
Though paid leave is not covered, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does offer covered employees 12 weeks off in a 12-month period after the birth of a child.
Their jobs should be protected during this time. However, you need to work for a company for a certain amount of hours to be eligible.
This leave is unpaid and makes no special exceptions for twins.
Statutory Maternity Pay
Statutory maternity pay (SMP) is offered in other countries, such as the UK. In most cases, employees are paid 90 percent of their rate for the first six weeks of maternity leave.
After that, they receive either a flat rate or the continued 90%, depending on which is lowest.
How long this pay lasts varies by country, but it can be from 39 weeks to 52 weeks. SMP does not double for twins.
Unpaid Maternity Leave
If you qualify for FMLA, you can take unpaid maternity leave and still have job protection.
FMLA will cover up to 12 weeks, so you have to decide if you can be off work that long without any income.
A twin birth does not increase your time off under FMLA.
Short-Term Disability Maternity Leave
If you have short-term disability, you may be able to get paid while on maternity leave. You will need to check with your employer to make sure you understand your policy and that you are covered.
Short-term disability maternity leave usually starts a couple of weeks before your due date. It then goes for another six weeks after birth, and it could be eight weeks after birth if you have a C-section.
Not all short-term disability policies offer extra time off for twins. However, some may offer a couple of extra weeks for the birth of multiples.
When To Start Maternity Leave
When you start maternity leave will vary based on your specific circumstances. Twin pregnancies are known for being unpredictable, and women pregnant with twins tend to go into labor sooner than the expected due date.
You should talk to your doctor about the best time to go out on maternity leave. It’s very possible you’ll be asked to slow down or go on bed rest around the time the third trimester begins.
How To Extend Maternity Leave
If the leave you have is simply not long enough for you to heal and bond with your little ones, you can ask for more. Sick days and vacation days that you have saved can be added to leave to extend it days or weeks longer.
You can also speak to your employer about when you would like to return to work. Though not every employer is helpful, some do try to offer ways for new parents to maximize their time off with the babies.
It is also an option to take time off that will be unpaid if your employer allows it.
Maternity Leave vs. Paternity Leave
Maternity leave is a time for the mother to recover and bond with her baby. The person who gives birth needs time for both, so maternity leave is often taken right after the birth of the twins.
However, paternity leave, if offered, may be taken at a different time to extend the children’s time at home.
Dad may want to take a couple of weeks of sick or vacation time so he is around to help the mom in those early days after birth. However, he may want to postpone any paternity leave he has through FMLA until later.
If Mom goes back to work, Dad can then take his time and be at home with the babies longer before they have to enter day care.
With twins, this can be especially helpful. Some twins are premature and need more time to build up their health before a daycare situation is safe.
Plus, saving paternity leave for after Mom is back at work gives Dad a chance to bond with the babies in a unique way.
States With Paid Maternity Leave
Though not required in the United States, a handful of states choose to offer paid maternity leave. They are:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New York
Still, every state sets their own terms, so it’s essential to know what is covered in your area.
How To Prepare for Maternity Leave
When preparing for maternity leave, you should make sure you talk to your HR department so you will understand how much time you have off and if any of it will be paid.
It’s wise to do this during the first or second trimester so you can plan accordingly.
When Should I Go on Maternity Leave?
Each person has to decide when they can afford to go on maternity leave. However, with twins you might want to plan for sooner rather than later.
Twins often arrive early, and a pregnancy with twins can lead to bed rest in the late second or third trimester. While you may not want to take time off before your babies even arrive, many twin pregnancies require it.
You will also be more uncomfortable carrying two babies, so it might be good to plan to take off around the 29 week mark.
Can I Work While on Maternity Leave for Another Employer?
While FMLA does not prohibit working for another employer while you are on leave, your employer might not allow it.
You need to find out if your company has a policy prohibiting you from working for someone else while on leave before you attempt it.
Know your rights when it comes to maternity leave so you can spend as much time with your new babies as possible.