New Carpenters Maternity Benefit, Explained
Positive changes are making workplaces more equitable and accommodating. Working in the trades has traditionally been challenging for women, and female carpenters are currently underrepresented in the construction industry. Talented Sisters either leave the trade or are unable to get started, and pregnancy is often a significant barrier.
Unlike many professions (office work, for example) where women can often remain on the job throughout most of their pregnancy, the physical demands of carpentry can mean women must hang up their tools for a substantial portion of pregnancy and/or postpartum period. This new benefit was designed to reduce barriers for Sisters.
In the spirit of meeting the unique needs of women Carpenters, the Trustees of the Carpenters Health and Welfare Trust Fund for California have implemented a new Special Maternity Disability benefit. The Building Industry Trust (BIT), a Labor/Management Cooperation Committee, provided a grant to kick off the benefit. This new benefit has no impact on our Health and Welfare Fund costs. The purpose of the benefit is to help women remain financially solvent and have a family while maintaining their career in carpentry.
F.O.C.U.S. on Women
The Nor Cal Carpenters Union is at the forefront of a movement to create an environment where women are encouraged to build a career. The Union’s F.O.C.U.S. committee provides a voice and place for women within the Union. F.O.C.U.S. championed the creation of a new maternity benefit.
What is the new maternity benefit?
It’s really quite simple. A pregnant, working Nor Cal Carpenter who meets eligibility requirements can receive a $2,500 monthly benefit for a period of up to nine months. In addition, during this Special Maternity Disability Period, their Health and Welfare Plan eligibility will be extended.
The maternity benefit can begin at any time from formal confirmation of pregnancy to giving birth, and the nine-month Special Maternity Disability Period can extend beyond the date of birth until the full nine months of benefit have been paid out. The Special Maternity Disability benefit ends after nine months or the day the Carpenter returns to work, whichever comes first.
This benefit is separate from and in addition to State of California maternity benefits, and is not dependent on California SDI disability status.
For example, if a pregnant Carpenter decides to begin taking maternity disability leave beginning the fifth month of pregnancy and gives birth at the end of the ninth month, their benefit can extend four months after giving birth – so 5 months of maternity benefits prior to giving birth and 4 months after. Of course, this is just an example, and all people and pregnancies are unique. Some may want or need to begin maternity disability early in pregnancy, while others might stay on the job longer.
Rules and Qualifications
To apply for benefits, fill out the Maternity Disability Benefit Application, including the date you wish to begin maternity disability. Along with the form, you must submit documentation of pregnancy, like a positive test result or confirmation from a doctor or other treating provider. A home pregnancy test is not sufficient.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have worked for a Contributing Employer at least one day in the thirty days prior to the requested disability date;
- Have 12 months of Eligibility from work hours or hour bank in the last 24 months;
- Have earned eligibility based on from work hours or hour bank for the month in which you stated was the first Date of Disability, and for the following month;
- Be actively working in the trades for a Contributing Employer.
Exclusions: Only active pregnant Carpenters working in the field are eligible for this benefit. Does not include baby bonding/Paid Family Leave. Office workers (Trust Fund employees, Flat Rate, Local Union staff, Stakeholders, and other desk jobs); and Spouses/Domestic Partners or Dependent Children of Nor Cal Carpenters are NOT eligible.
Having a child is an exciting and challenging part of life. It shouldn’t force someone to give up their career or create a financial crisis. This new maternity benefit is designed to allow working Sisters to build a family and stay on the job.