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Maternity Leave FAQ

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This page summarizes the highlights of our maternity disability benefits and covers frequently asked questions about maternity and maternity leave.

For a complete description of your benefits, please refer to the appropriate Plan Summary document on the Resources section of the Cardinal at Work website. If there are any differences between this information and the plan documents, the plan documents will govern.

Important Notice - Adding Your Baby to Benefits

Having a baby is considered a qualifying life event for changing your benefits mid-year. If you want to cover your baby under Stanford benefits, it is important that you enroll your baby within 31 days from the baby’s birth (there is no automatic enrollment). You must add your baby as a dependent and enroll them in the desired coverages by logging into My Benefits or contacting the University HR Service Team (650-736-2985).

Stanford Benefits also requires that you verify your dependents within 31 days of your baby’s birth to complete the life event process. You can upload documentation, such as a hospital certificate of live birth for newborns, into My Benefits, or fax it to Stanford Benefits (866-539-0431) or mail to Stanford Benefits (P.O. Box 3190, Bellaire, TX 77402). Please include your Stanford ID number on each document you submit. If you have any questions or need help, contact the University HR Service Team.

If you do not have a Social Security number for your baby yet, you can leave that question blank. When you get your baby’s Social Security number, login to My Benefits and add it, or contact the University HR Service Team.

If you miss the 31-day window, your baby will have no coverage until you enroll him/her during Open Enrollment. Coverage would start January 1 of the next year. Federal law does not allow Stanford to make exceptions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is maternity disability covered under Stanford’s disability insurance?

Yes. Maternity disability is covered under Stanford’s Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) plan for residents of California or short-term disability if outside of California. If you have questions about how the VDI plan works, please refer to the Voluntary Disability FAQ on Cardinal at Work. 

As a new employee, am I eligible for maternity disability benefits?

Yes, but your benefit may be subject to a pre-existing condition clause and limited to the state rate. This is a California requirement and not a Stanford policy. For additional information, refer to the VDI Statement of Coverage on the Voluntary Disability Insurance page.

I am going on maternity leave and I’m confused about the length of time I’m considered disabled.

For a typical pregnancy, women are usually certified as disabled by the doctors for up to four weeks before the due date and up to six weeks after delivery (or eight weeks for a C-section). However, the actual length of your disability will depend on your individual condition.

Complications such as toxemia, history of miscarriage, extreme morning sickness, anemia and other factors could extend the disability period both before and after delivery.

More information on How Maternity Leave Works is below.

How Maternity Leave Works


Maternity Leave, Pre-partum

Maternity Leave, Post-partum

Maternity Leave, Bonding

Additional Leave Time, Balance of CFRA

Income replacement

Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) for California residents or Short-Term Disability outside California.

Voluntary Disability Insurance (VDI) for California residents or Short-Term Disability outside California.

Paid Family Leave, Bonding.


Length of time allowed

Typically begins 1-4 weeks before expected delivery date.

Typically 6-8 weeks after delivery date (based on delivery type and doctor certification).

May be up to 8 weeks. May be taken intermittently. May use up to 1 year after birth of child.

May be up to 4 weeks after FTD leave.


Requires doctor statement.

Requires doctor statement.

Requires bonding certificate.

Requires 1 year of employment and must have worked 1,250 hours in previous year.

Hours that can be used (accrued time)

Use sick, PTO, floating, vacation hours to supplement insurance benefit.

Use sick, PTO, floating, vacation hours to supplement insurance benefit.

Benefits-eligible employees receive 100% of base pay without using accruals for the first 6 weeks and may use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours during weeks 7-8 to augment insurance benefit.

Non-benefits-eligible employees may use accrued PTO, floating holiday and vacation hours to augment insurance benefit.

Only PTO, floating and vacation hours; no disability benefit during this period.

Job protection

Protected under California Pregnancy Disability Leave up to 4 months.

Protected under CFRA (California’s version of FMLA) and/or FMLA. If eligible, 12 weeks beginning the first day after PDL begins.

Protected under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). If eligible, 12 weeks beginning on the first day of leave.

Does Family Medical Leave (FMLA) run concurrently with Disability Leave for Maternity?

Yes. If you are eligible, FMLA provides job protection while VDI or short-term disability may provide income replacement. To be eligible for FMLA, you must have completed one year of employment and worked 1,250 hours at Stanford within the last 12 months.

May I request additional time off to bond with my baby?

After you have completed your disability leave, your bonding leave (PFL) and family leave covered by CFRA, you may request a personal leave of absence from your manager. Your department is not obligated to grant this leave. When on a personal leave, you pay the full cost of benefits; there is no university contribution.

Your Benefits While on Leave

Am I allowed to change my medical plan when I add my baby to my Stanford benefits?

Yes. If you submit a life event of birth/adoption of a child, you have the opportunity to change your medical plan. The effective date will be the date of birth/adoption. However, there are things to consider before making this change.

Depending on your current medical plan, leaving that plan may mean that you are responsible for any costs for services received after the date of birth. For example, you are enrolled in the Healthcare + Savings plan and want to change to Kaiser. The delivery of your baby occurred at a non-Kaiser hospital. Kaiser only covers services at a Kaiser facility using Kaiser providers. As a result, you may end up having to pay the cost of the delivery, hospital stay and any postpartum care as you would be considered a Kaiser member effective the date of birth/adoption.

A plan change may also impact the provider from whom you want your child to receive care. You can contact the University HR Service Team if you have questions about the implications of a plan change.

Do my Stanford benefits continue while on disability leave?

Yes. You may continue all the same benefits while on disability leave except the Dependent Day Care flexible spending account (FSA). We are required to suspend this type of FSA during leave, but you can reactivate your account when you return from leave by calling the University HR Service Team.

Read the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Summary and Flexible Spending Account (FSA) FAQ on the Flexible Spending Account page.

How do I pay for my benefits, and will the university contribution change?

While on disability or paid family leave, the university contribution continues for your health and life benefits. If you are not receiving any salary or base pay from use of accruals, and therefore do not have anything from which we can deduct your contributions to your benefits, our direct pay administrator, Vita Companies, will send you a coupon book so you can pay your portion of the cost on the 7th and 22nd of each month. Your retirement savings contributions will be suspended when you are no longer receiving a Stanford paycheck.

When on personal leave, you pay the full cost for your health premiums. There is no university contribution to your health and life benefits or to the retirement savings plan. For more information, call the University HR Service Team (877-905-2985)

If I am on a leave, may I continue to use my Dependent Day Care FSA?

No. Federal law does not allow you to contribute to, or incur expenses against, a Dependent Day Care FSA while you are on leave. If you have a Dependent Day Care FSA before your leave and you return within the same calendar year, you can start using this account again after you return to work. Stanford Benefits will recalculate your contributions so you meet your original election amount by the end of the calendar year. If you return to work in a new plan year, you forfeit the remaining balance from the previous year but you may establish an FSA for the current year by following the process to make a life event change in the My Benefits portal within 31 days of your return from leave. If you have any questions, call the University HR Service Team (877-905-2985).

Can I enroll in the Dependent Day Care FSA when I return to work?

Yes. To start a Dependent Day Care FSA, log into My Benefits and follow the process to make a life event change.

You will not be able to enroll or make changes to a Dependent Day Care FSA until you return to work, and you must do so within 31 days of your return.