Can Self-Employed People Get Maternity Leave?

July 13, 2021

What does maternity leave look like if I freelance? Can self-employed people get maternity leave? What about parental leave? Or is this something that a family sacrifices when they own their own business or work for themselves? A big part of my vision with Fully Funded is to educate parents on their options, regardless of how they support themselves and who employs them.

While there aren’t many states that offer paid maternity leave for freelancers (or even employed individuals!) the list is growing. If you’d like to know if self-employed people can get maternity leave, exploring this option is a great place to begin.

Planning for maternity leave or parental leave? Check out these other resources:

When can self-employed people get maternity leave or parental leave?

One option for self-employed parents to take time off for a new baby is a Paid Family Leave Insurance Fund. Never heard of it? Well, depending on where you live it may be the perfect place to start as you grow your family.

A Paid Family Leave Insurance Fund is a state program where individuals contribute over a period of time. W-2 employees contribute out of their wages; typically less than $2 per week. This fund is used to allow birthing parents with employers a short maternity leave - usually, six weeks paid.

The good news for the self-employed is that an increasing number of states are inviting them to opt into the programs by paying a periodic premium.

Can self-employed people get maternity leave or parental leave in my state through a Paid Family Leave Insurance Fund?

Though the list of states that allow self-employed people to participate in a family leave insurance fund is small, it is growing. Is your state on the list?


California has been a forerunner in the movement to provide all parents with maternity and parental leave. The state’s program covers up to eight weeks of paid family leave, if the individual contributes to the State Disability Insurance Fund.

Learn more about how your family can benefit here.

New York

Another state taking self-employed people into account when it comes to maternity and parental leave is New York. This program allows for up to 12 weeks paid family leave when a self-employed person opts into the state’s insurance program.

Learn more about opting in here.


Massachusetts has a program that covers one self-employed parent for up to 12 weeks following the new addition of a new child. The state’s Paid Family and Medical Leave requires a length of time to make contributions. Read more here.


A self-employed person may be able to get maternity leave in Connecticut for up to 12 weeks, with an extra 2 weeks for complications. The program requires adherence to an opt-in calendar. Learn more and start planning here.


Washington’s program provides some flexibility that the other states don’t. For instance, freelancers who opt-in have the option to use a 16-week combined medical and family leave, and 18-weeks if there are pregnancy-related complications. The program does require a 3-year participation, however.

Read about your eligibility here.

Washington DC

DC’s family leave program has options for both freelancers and self-employed individuals who work for a company that is covered by the district’s family leave, (such as ride-share drivers and graphic designers) as long as the individual pays into the program at .62% of their income. Get their comprehensive guide to the options here.


Oregon is one of the states joining in to support self-employed parents. Planning ahead to grow your family? Oregon’s program will begin in 2023.


Colorado’s family leave program was voted on and passed last year and starts in 2024.

What about short-term disability?

Not familiar with short-term disability and using it for maternity leave? That may be because so few states offer it. Just three states in the US have state-mandated short-term disability insurance, which means it’s affordable and everyone qualifies. If you live in New York, California, or Hawaii, this may be an option to consider. The states provide payment for six weeks following a vaginal birth and eight weeks following a c-section birth. Each state has its own qualifying and application processes.

What should I do if my state doesn’t have a Paid Family Leave Insurance program?

Does your family live in the majority of the states that do not offer programs for self-employed parents? You might now be wondering if you can even take maternity leave or parental leave when you welcome your new family member. The good news is that if you are able to plan ahead, there are methods you can use to make sure that you fund your leave on your own.

Fully Funded is here to help. Get started with these resources.

Is there hope for self-employed people getting maternity leave or parental leave in the future?

Having Oregon and Colorado join the list of states providing options for expectant families is very encouraging. And the even better news is that more states may be coming along. The American Families Plan, a Biden initiative, has a pathway to 12 weeks of paid family leave in all states, with an option for self-employed people to opt-in.

Learn more about this comprehensive economic plan on my blog post: The American Families Plan and maternity leave.
You don’t have to wait for the American Families Plan to take effect to fund your maternity leave. Want to learn about how you can still fund your leave as a self-employed person? Contact me about my financial coaching programs.

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