Here we are in the 21st century. While parents rights have come a long way since our moms were young (and so were we), women still sometimes run into issues where blending their jobs with being a mom is concerned.

If you are a mom who works outside the home, hopefully, you are fortunate enough to have an employer that understands how important things like flexible hours, work at home options and longer maternity leave are.

And hopefully, you are getting paid a fair and equal wage for your work, in spite of your responsibilities to your family. Some companies are excellent at recognizing the needs of moms, while others still lag behind.

What are your rights at work, and how can you get them acknowledged?

Maternity Leave (or Parental Leave) – Some of the more enlightened companies give paid maternity leave to mothers for up to six weeks. Others allow six weeks, but unpaid. Often women have to use a combination of maternity leave, paid or unpaid, sick days, vacation days and Short-term Disability to cover the time they take off for childbirth and the first few weeks of baby’s life.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles most workers to up to 12 weeks of leave for a birth or an adoption. The worker’s job is protected for this amount of time, but is most likely unpaid.

Some smaller companies are not required to follow FMLA guidelines. It’s very important to explore what you’ll be offered in the way of maternity leave early in your pregnancy so that you can plan accordingly.

Flexible Hours – More and more, companies are offering flexible hours to their employees not only as a concession to parents, but as a convenience for all. Some jobs have flexible hours just by nature, and if you are a parent, this is to your advantage.

If your job traditionally doesn’t offer flexible hours, you will want to speak with your supervisor to see if this is possible. You may be able to switch to a different shift or work more hours each day, but fewer days. Or you may be able to even work on weekends when your spouse is home to take care of the children.

Work from Home Options – With all the advances in communication, working from home is a reasonable option for many. This enables you to be available to your child, and still complete your work.

Many companies allow workers to come into the office once or twice a week for a few hours for meetings and other in-office tasks, and work from home, using email and other communication technology for getting jobs finished. Talk to your employer about working from home. If you come to her/him equipped with a great idea for making working from homework, they may agree.

Equal Pay – Equal pay has long been a problem for women. Even high-level execs still have trouble breaking through the “glass ceiling.” This situation is changing slowly for women without children as well as for moms.

As a mother, the work you provide for your employer is valuable and maybe even more so because of your heightened sense of responsibility that comes with being a parent. While your employer is hopefully providing you will the wages and periodic raises that are due to you, it’s important to use your voice to ask for promotions and pay raises.

The key to getting your rights recognized on the job is to do your homework and use your voice. Don’t be afraid of alienating your boss or employer. If you present a well thought out request to them, they will likely give your request due consideration.

In the case of Maternity Leave, find out exactly what you will be allowed and plan ahead. If you think your company is violating the law, do some research online, or check with an attorney that specializes in employment law. Most of all, don’t assume that you cannot have what you want or need. Ask for it. By Editor