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    Having a Baby?
    Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Leave and Benefits

    There are many types of employment leave, but the most common leaves are related to Maternity or Childbearing Leave. If you expecting a child, it is important to understand how your leave will affect your benefits.

    What Happens to My Benefits While I am on Leave?

    The District contribution toward to the cost of your employee benefits will continue as long as you either are in a paid status, or as long as your leave is qualified as FMLA. If your benefits premium exceeds the District contribution, you will continue to be responsible for paying your share of the monthly insurance premium in order to maintain your benefits.

    What is FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act)?
    FMLA provides up to 12 weeks each year of job‐protected leave to employees who need to care for themselves or certain family members in the event of birth, adoption, or a serious health condition. Employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have been employed by SPS for at least one year and have worked 1,250 hours or more in the most recent 12 months.

    FMLA leave can be paid leave or unpaid leave. In either case, the District will continue its contribution for your benefits for up to 12 weeks. If you already pay part of your premiums through payroll deduction, your share of the monthly premiums will have to continue as well. If your leave is paid, this will be deducted from your paycheck. However, if your leave is unpaid, or you do not have sufficient pay from which to deduct your premium share, you will need to pay your monthly share by writing a check to Seattle Public Schools within 30 days of each normal pay date. You will receive a letter with payment instructions. If you add your new baby to your health insurance coverage, your premium share may increase, so you will have to pay the premium for your new baby in addition to the premium share  you paid before you went on leave.

    What is FLA?
    FLA (Washington State Family Leave Act) is similar to FMLA, in that it has the same eligibility provisions and a 12‐week duration. The difference between FMLA and FLA is that the FLA 12‐week period begins at the end of any Childbearing Leave (i.e., conversion to Child Care Leave), thus allowing female employees who receive Childbearing Leave and qualify for FLA the opportunity for even longer leave of absence. Keep in mind however, that District contributions for benefits will end when FMLA ends.

    How Does Childbearing Leave Work?
    Childbearing Leave typically begins when your baby is born and lasts 6‐8 weeks, but can include a period of time before childbirth, if medical conditions related to your pregnancy prevent you from working.

    What if I Don’t Qualify for FMLA?
    If you do not qualify for FMLA/FLA, you may use any paid leave during your Childbearing Leave. When this paid leave ends, your district contribution for benefits would end. See “When Do My Benefits End?” below for details.

    When Do My Benefits End?

    If your FMLA ends or unpaid leave status begins on or before the 15th of the month, District contributions cease at the end of that same month; if your status is changed after the 15th of the month, District contributions cease at the end of the following month. When District contributions for benefits cease, you will have to pay the entire monthly cost yourself to maintain your coverage. In addition, if your last paycheck is not sufficient to cover your
    share of the premium, you will need to pay your share by writing a check to Seattle Public Schools within 30 days of your normal pay date in order to keep your coverage for that month.

    What Can I Do To Keep My Benefits When My District Contributions End?
    When District contributions for your benefits end, you will receive a letter offering you the opportunity to self-pay your benefits. You can continue your benefits by self‐paying the full premium for as long as your approved leave continues, but not longer than one year. After you have paid your own premiums for 12 months under the self‐pay program, and if you have not yet returned to work, or if your employment ends, you may elect COBRA coverage. The COBRA period is usually 18 months, but can be longer.

    What if I Need More Time with My Baby?
    Certain bargaining agreements allow for Child Care Leave. This provides time during the 12 months following birth (or placement by adoption) to care for your new child. Child Care Leave itself is always an Unpaid Leave but if you also qualify for FMLA, District contributions would continue for up to 12 weeks. If your Child Care Leave goes past the end of FMLA period, District contributions will end, and you will become eligible to self‐pay the cost of your benefits.

    Are There Any Other Types of Leave Related to Children?
    The Washington State Family Care Act (FCA) allows employees to use available paid leave to care for a sick child with a routine illness; a spouse, parent, parent‐in‐law or grandparent with a serious or emergency health condition; and an adult child with a disability. District contributions for benefits would continue during this type of leave.

    How Do I Enroll My New Baby on My Insurance Plans?
    If you wish to enroll your new baby on your medical, dental and vision plans, you must complete an Enrollment and Change Form and submit it to Human Resources within 60 days of your baby’s birth. You do not need to wait for your baby’s social security number to add him or her to your plan. You will be responsible for paying any premium that exceeds the District contribution for your benefits. Premium is due on the first day of each month, and if your paycheck is not sufficient to cover the cost or if you are on an unpaid leave, you must pay this premium to the District within 30 days of your normal pay date.

    What Should I Do When I Return From Leave?
    If you received District contributions for benefits throughout your leave, you will not need to do anything about your benefits when you return. However, if you have been on self‐pay or COBRA, or if you have allowed your benefits to lapse, you must complete a new Enrollment and Change Form. You must submit your completed form to Human Resources within 30 days of your return to work to reinstate your coverage as an active employee. Otherwise, you will not be able to enroll until the next open enrollment period.

    More Questions?
    This is just a brief discussion of how the cost of benefits is paid during a leave of absence and applies only to the practices in effect on the date of publication. Full information is available from your Leave Administrator. You can also visit the Benefits Website at www.ourpasswordpage.com (password: “sps”), or call the Benefits Helpline at (206) 957‐7066.