Dooce wrote a great post today about small businesses & maternity leave in the US (or lack thereof) and it really got me thinking about my own situation again.
Check out these comparison numbers (courtesy of Wikipedia) for where my sister is currently living (Norway) compared to the US where my husband and I both work for tiny employers that definitely don’t quality for FMLA.
Paid Maternity Leave – 56 weeks (13 months) (80%) or 46 weeks (10.5 months) (100%) – mother must take at least 3 weeks immediately before birth and 6 weeks immediately after birth, father must take at least 10 weeks – the rest can be shared between mother and father.
Paid Paternity Leave – 10 weeks of the 56/46 weeks paid leave is reserved for the father. If he does not take these 10 weeks, they will be lost as they can not be transferred to the mother.
Unpaid Maternity Leave – The mother can also take an extra full year of unpaid leave after the paid period ends.
Unpaid Paternity Leave – The father can also take an extra full year of unpaid leave after the paid period ends. In addition, the father is entitled to take two weeks unpaid leave directly before or after birth (many fathers are paid for these weeks by their employers).
Restrictions – To gain the right to paid leave for herself and the father, the mother must have worked for 6 of the last 10 months before birth, or the leave is unpaid (except for a lump sum benefit from the government)
Pait Maternity Leave – 0 weeks
Paid Paternity Leave – 0 weeks
Unpaid Maternity Leave – 12 weeks*
Unpaid Paternity Leave – 12 weeks*
*Restrictions – To be covered underFMLA (Family Medical Leave Act): Must work for a covered employer (all public agencies; private companies with 50 or more employees within 75 miles.) Must have worked for covered employer for at least 12 months prior, and at least 1250 hours in previous 12 months. Other restrictions apply
Um….yeah, you see the issue here?
I know it’s a difficult situation b/c “how can small business owners afford to do this” – etc.etc… well, they make it work in Norway so there must be a way!!
If I got my BFP this cycle, I’d be due next February. At that time, I would be eligible for 0 DAYS of maternity leave – paid or unpaid. I’m saving up my “paid time off” (which I can only stockpile to 15 days or I lose them) so I’ll get 3 weeks paid off that way. Nice, except I get zero paid days off in the meantime in order to do that! Also, I’m an Office Manager and a Realtor (with 95% of my income coming from the Office Manager position at this time)…and I seriously run EVERYTHING in this office. My boss had a hard time giving me 8 work days off to go to Norway. I understand that they would need to hire someone in my place if I was going to be gone for more than those three weeks I’ll have stockpiled, but CRAPOLA, then what for me?
It stresses me out too much if I think about it much, but change is never going to happen unless people speak up to their legislature about the fact that this needs to change. Being home with a newborn is so important…it breaks my heart to know that I probably won’t get more than three weeks of time with my own. Yikes.