…aka, the bas-ackwardness of living & procreating in America.
As you are probably well aware, there is no mandatory maternity leave provided for those of us in the good ‘ole US of A (much less PAID maternity leave).
Something you might not realize is that the FMLA law that requires 12 weeks UNpaid leave be provided to new Moms with a guaranteed job security DOES NOT APPLY if you work for a company that employs under 50 people. My company employs 7.
To be eligible for FMLA leave, an individual must meet the following criteria:
*Be employed by a covered employer and work at a worksite within 75 miles of which that employer employs at least 50 people;
*Have worked at least 12 months (which do not have to be consecutive) for the employer; and
*Have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date FMLA leave begins.
Basically, it’s an undue hardship on small companies to have to give employees that much time off (which I get, honestly)…but it also explains why a lot of people return to the workforce sooner than desired. If you don’t have a guaranteed job back (in addition to not necessarily being paid during that time off), it makes sense that you’d take off as little time as possible.
On that note, I was able to stay home for 8 weeks with Stella when she was born. The jobs I had while pregnant with her had been temporary (bartending & waitressing) and I had planned on taking a longer amount of time off to be a full time SAHM while she was little.
Then reality hit, money was tight since I was unemployed and receiving $0 per day to stay at home, [my current job] was being advertised in the paper, and I had to jump on it. Good jobs are HARD to come by in my little town (pop. 1000). They offered me the job when Stella was 6 weeks old, wanted me to start the next week, and I talked them into giving me one more week. Look how little my baby was on my first day back! 8 weeks old…
I’ve been at the same job for nearly two years now, and it’s been a good job. They dealt without complaint with the inconvenience of me being out of my chair for my pumping breaks 2-3x/day for the first 9 months I worked here, and considering what a tiny (medical) office I work in, that was phenomenal of them. We don’t have employer offered health insurance (I am really curious what the ACA will do for Charlie & I in regards to our health insurance premiums since we buy an individual plan for the family), but they do offer to pay 1/2 of the premium for Short Term & Long Term disability insurance if we want it. My portion of that is about $30/month, so I went ahead and signed up as soon as I was eligible (after 90 days).
The benefits of Short Term Disability Insurance (for my particular policy) mean that I qualify for 60% pay starting the 8th day I’m out of work for up to 13 weeks. That means if I work up until the day this kid comes, I could potentially be home the first three months if I take the full benefit.
STOP THE PRESS. While writing this post and verifying all my numbers, I just found out that though it isn’t stated anywhere in my policy, the “industry standard” for payment for vaginal births is 6 weeks – including the 1st unpaid week, so really I’m only eligible for 5 weeks of ST pay for maternity leave. HOLY HELL I am upset right now. I had been offered a new job with a different company right when I found out I was pregnant, and a huge part of why I stayed was knowing that I had this ST policy here for maternity leave. Now that was just cut from 12w pay to 5w pay. WTF?!!!!
Also, since FMLA does not apply in my case, I am not guaranteed my job back if I want to take any extended amount of time off. My boss is nice and was willing to work with me when I originally brought up wanting to take off 8 weeks (since that was how much time I had with Stella), but I knew it will be hard on my office and co-workers to be picking up the slack while I’m gone, and I’ve really been struggling with guilt about that. Because of the duties of my particular position, someone literally needs to be in the chair from 8:30-5:30, M-F, and that means a lot of juggling of my coworkers schedules to make it work for me to be gone.
THEN — oh joyous day — THEN — one of my full time coworkers approached me last week and said that, effective immediately, she was cutting to very limited hours here (< 18 hrs / wk) — BUT — oh BUT — she wanted to be available to work full time for me while I was out on maternity leave so that everyone else wasn’t juggling covering a day here and a day there for me (I work Mon-Thur, 8:00-5:30 right now). Assuming approval from my boss (which should be a given), this means a huge load off my shoulders regarding stressing about who is going to cover my position. She has been here for longer than me and already covers my desk on Friday, so it won’t involve training anyone to cover my position. One other person here will have to switch to 5 day work weeks instead of 4 while I’m out, but I think she’ll do it.
However…. now that I know I only get 5 weeks paid at 60%, I’m not sure at all what to do.
[Side note – I’m using real numbers below b/c that’s what I do – I know that cost of living and such is different for everyone, so take this worth a grain of salt. I just figured hard numbers were easier for people – myself included – to process.]
Right now we pay for 3d/wk of daycare for Stella. During maternity leave we would still send her 2d/wk, and post maternity leave both kids will be going 3d/wk (Nana watches 1d/wk). Here’s the break down of our take home income (my wages less daycare cost, all pre-tax numbers) after 3 months based on different scenarios. FYI – I included “current” just as a reference for myself to start thinking about what we need to cut to live at the new 2 kid level of income.
My emotions have been all over the board during the writing of this post. I was all excited thinking we could possibly make it work for me to take 13 weeks off with this baby [see DELUSIONAL column above!], but now I realize that it would actually cost us a LOT more than I was thinking, and there is just no way.
Why haven’t I just moved to Canada already?
What did you do for maternity leave if you worked outside the home?
Did you get any of your time off paid?
Why does America suck so bad when it comes to taking care of stuff like this?
I work for a very large corporation, but it is mainly a male dominated business. Because of this I tend to have much better maternity leave than most of the women I know who all work in education. I get 6wks 100% pay through ST and 8wks for C-section. For my DS, I took the 6wks plus 3wks of vacation time to stay home and not miss any pay. My husband took an additional 2wks of his vacay so we could keep our son home 11wks. But, for this pregnancy, I’m planning on taking 12wks. The 6wks paid with ST and then 6wks of UNpaid leave. We are putting away money anticipating me not getting paid during this time. I wanted to save my vacation time since I will have 2 kids requiring doctor visits. I agree it does stink in your situation! I wish FMLA gave you pay for the 12 wks it allots you. I didn’t know it mattered on the size of your company. I just feel like it already compounds the mommy guilt I already have for leaving my kid every day. I wish my husband’s company offered paternity pay and could stay home with the baby too. Hopefully, what ever you decide you will find peace with it! It’s tough being a working mom!!!!!!
Ya, part of my problem is that I don’t have a bunch of vacation pay saved up. I only get 2 weeks / year at my company, and it expires each year (no rollover). We will definitely keep socking away money to try to make this easier, but when my husband is self-employed with a variable income, it’s just really scary to not have money coming in from me as well!
Yeah the discovery that after paying $30/ month for STD, I don’t get the full 12 weeks paid was not fun. I qualified for 8, because I ended up with an unplanned emergency c-section. Honestly I had an easy recovery and looking back I am sort of grateful for the c because it have me 8 weeks at home, otherwise I would have had to return after 6 :(. I am originally from Romania, so that doesn’t help to hear all my friends from there and how they get 2 years!! To have them complain that they decided to return after 1 year because they sort of had to drives me nuts! So this is not helpful but I feel your pain.
Mine also gives 8w for c/s (so weeks 7 paid at 60%), but it would work out much worse for us b/c we would owe so much more in hospital bills! Avg c/s is $30k I think, and I’d have to pay $12,500 out of pocket (as opposed to the $4k we’re paying for home birth). *sigh* No easy answer.
It’d definitely be hard to hear all the stories from people who get 2 years. Wow! I cannot imagine!
That blows. Also, why does everything have to be so hard? Insurance, FMLA, etc. Stupid.
Right? And I know that we’re in a way better situation than so many, and it’s STILL damn hard.
My ST policy began about two weeks before my duedate because my doctor wrote me an excuse for work. I didn’t begin receiving pay until 8 days after the date of the last day I worked, but my company did allow me to take sick time to bridge the gap between paychecks. I then received 60% of my salary for eight weeks after the date of birth. One minor perk from the c-section. So overall, I took about ten weeks, but only eight with my precious baby. And it was complete torture going back 🙁
We don’t have paid parental leave because we stick employers with the cost of health insurance which winds up costing more than having a single payer system would, with worse outcomes for everyone because of the terrible fragmentation. Also because congress is a bunch of whiny babies lately and couldn’t find their way out of a bushel basket, let alone implement something that would help families hugely. My spouse took 2 weeks off using stored-up vacation and sick days when Little Monster was born. It is abysmal how little America takes protecting families seriously. UGH. I think I’ll get on that moving to Canada thing.
Ha – and neither my husband nor myself has EVER worked for an employer that offers health insurance!
The whole system is so screwed up. Let’s all move in with SRB. 🙂
DO IT! I have empty rooms!
Like I said last night though, it boggles my mind and hurts my heart that this is such a clusterfuck in America. Our system is far from perfect, but what we have is really great. I wish you guys had something, ANYTHING, like it.
I am with you Sarah – it astounds me that America is the only western country that has no parental support. And what’s happening now is disgrace.
This sucks for you, I’m so sorry. I’ve never really understood too much about ST disability. With Chloe, my whole 12 weeks was paid b/c I had enough sick and vacation time saved up. From what I remember our ST policy is 6 weeks @60% for vaginal delivery and 8 weeks @80% for c/s. BUT…if you have enough sick time saved up you use that first, which in my case is what happened. JJ was working on call but basically home all the time with his normal pay which was great.
With Drake I didn’t have quite enough saved up to go the entire 12 weeks with pay. I think I ended up being short about 10 days, but I still took the full 12 weeks. Again JJ was home most of the time collecting his normal paycheck and I taught two classes that ended the week I had Drake so we kind of clung to that money knowing I’d fall short of pay those last couple of weeks.
We are just starting to feel the repercussions of me going back to work only part time because we haven’t adjusted our spending at all. That has to change now though if we want to stay afloat and actually move like we’ve been saying we are gonna do for the last 7 months. The reason for me going back part time is that to have two kids in daycare at my salary would basically be a wash, so why not be home with them myself rather than hand someone else my paycheck at the end of the month to watch my kids for me? And I don’t think I could handle being a SAHM full time plus I wanted to be contributing financially a little bit so for right now this is working out. When the time comes that we need daycare a couple days a week, JJ will be back to work full time and will pick up on the slack financially that I lost going part time. Is there any way you could stay home after the baby is here and save on childcare? Is it close to a wash for you or not really?
We’ve talked about me staying home, but there’s just no way to swing it until Charlie’s business is a little more established. *sigh*
My job only gives 3 days sick leave per yr (ridiculous), and that goes fast when you have a sick kid. I’ve never even used it for a sick day for myself!
I’m glad it’s worked out for you guys to be able to adjust how the bills get paid and give you more time home with the kids. Adjusting your spending habits is the hardest part, but will be so worth it!
3 sick days??? You could use that up in one illness! I’m surprised working at a doctor’s office they don’t give more, but perhaps it’s because there are so few employees. Well, we haven’t quite adjusted yet…I about choked when I saw how much our savings has gone down in the past few months. But if we are diligent I think (hope) we can make it work. Fingers crossed Charlie’s business takes off and you don’t have to worry about working much longer!
Don’t even get me started on the effed-up social policies (and effed-up bs 19th-century Social Darwinism that underlies them).
As a grad student I have both unlimited and no maternity leave. Unlimited in that I can take off time if I want/need to and don’t have to work (in addition to my dissertation writing). But none in that I don’t get paid if I don’t work. With Smudgie, he was born at the beginning of a semester, so I couldn’t teach and just took that whole semester off. I went back to teaching when he was 4 mo. old and my fellowship covered his childcare (we live off of my H’s much larger salary). This baby will be born at the end of a semester, so I decided to stick it out and teach up until my due date and grade all my students’ papers 2 weeks post partum! Then around 8 weeks I’ll have to go back to my non-teaching fellowship job, but it’s basically only once a week, so I don’t feel to bad about that. And the fellowship will cover the childcare.
Next year…lord only knows what kind of funding I’ll have. Maybe none. But I need childcare regardless so I can finish this freaking dissertation and move on with my life.
I’m so sorry it’s so tricky for you guys to take maternity leave south of the border! It’s not perfect here in Canada but you’re welcome to come any time! We’re nice people 🙂
Ugh. That sucks 🙁 I hate that we even have to do these calculations when we have kids. I work for a university, so I was guaranteed FMLA protection but we have no paid maternity leave. We can use suck leave for the first 6 weeks but after that, it’s either vacation or unpaid. One (tiny) perk of it taking so long to have D was that I had accumulated 5 weeks of bonus leave that we were given in lieu of raises for several years, so with sick leave, bonus leave & a week of normal vacation, I was able to get paid for 12 weeks.
Unless we get more bonus leave, I won’t be able to do that again if we have another. I would likely have 2-3 weeks unpaid. I know that’s a lot better than many have it, but again, it is shameful how barbaric our family leave policies are.
I’m in a very similar boat! Same difficulty due to a small company (11 employees). However my boss originally agreed to let me have off until the first of the year (8weeks) when my due date was Oct 31st. She has been nice enough to give me the same return date even though Ethan was born 6 weeks early. We have a new employee I was training for another office and two students I had been training so there is enough coverage.
However, my husband has a part time job (working for himself) as a personal trainer, we are talking maybe 10 hours a week.
My contract just changed and I have 15 days of vacation and 6 days of sick leave each year now, this year I have used about 5 days (due to ivf in Las Vegas). I also have Afla.c. Which will pay for I think 2 weeks of STD. So I have about 4 weeks of pay coming in.
We had been saving up for the other 4 weeks, but out unexpected 10 day “vacation” to Las Vegas when Ethan arrived wiped us out! I’m likely to return part time if it’s an option in early December.
I wish it didn’t suck so bad. I was able to exhaust vacation and sick leave to cover 11 weeks of my leave for Baby X. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much saved up this time around, so when we get matched we’re looking at maybe 5 weeks paid and the rest unpaid FMLA. S doesn’t get diddly-squat from his company, and we want to take a total of 6 months off between the two of us. It’s gonna be really tight this time around considering now we have daycare to pay (at least part time so we don’t lose a spot for X) and two car payments instead of one. Aaahhh, don’t feel like thinking about yet!
Good luck figuring your leave out. At least you have an understanding boss, and that makes it marginally easier.
I’m so sorry, Josey. I work for a big company, so I get the full 12 weeks FMLA (and b/c of my emergency c section + vacation saved it’s all paid).
I would hate to be in your shoes. You are in my thoughts as you figure this out….
OH, this just makes me nuts. I knew going into leave with Raegan we would be going 12 weeks without pay. I don’t qualify for FMLA because I don’t work enough hours. I think I did with Raegan, but I definitely don’t work enough now. I get 6 weeks of medical leave, unpaid for childbirth, but if I want more I have to take 6 weeks of “bonding” time which had to be pre-approved by my manager. So far she’s agreed, but since they don’t HAVE to hold my job, I do run the chance of being “let go” when I try to come back after BB#2 is born. I really hope they can work things out for you and you get to keep your job. I can’t imagine stressing about that with so many unknowns. Good luck and I’m so sorry you have to deal with all of this!
I have much beef with maternity benefits here in the US!
This is my second time being on an online pregnancy board and SO MANY people are quick to state: Oh! You’ll get FMLA benefits when the baby is born — that’s 12 weeks to be home with Baby! And SO MANY of them don’t know it depends on the size of the company and you don’t necessarily get paid. It’s really irritated me this time around.
I worked for a small company and saw one of the doctors go on maternity leave, only to return to be told “Oh, sorry, we had to give your FT position to a new doctor” (we were in the process of trying to hire one PT; but the new one wouldn’t take a PT position) “You can take the PT position if you want to come back.” I felt horrible; the old doctor had to find a second PT job elsewhere just to make ends meet.
I am so greatful that I got lucky and got a job with a big corporation several months after that. I don’t know how I would have made everything work had I stayed: bed rest, G being in the NICU and needing to be there with him, and recovering personally. I like to think my old job would have tried working something out with me, but after seeing what happened to the one doctor, I know I couldn’t have assumed anything about my job was safe.
At the big corporation I signed up for short term disability knowing at some point I wanted to have a baby. This covered my week of bed rest and maternity leave after I used 5 days of my own PTO. I assumed I had 8 weeks of maternity leave thru the STD becuase everyone I worked with took 8 weeks. I assumed wrong. It was 6 for vaginal delivery and 8 for c-section. I was LIVID when I found out; they wanted me back at work the day of my 6 week follow up and I felt jipped having had G in NICU. After talking to an HR rep, I found out the company’s STD covered 6 (at 100% for a certain number of weeks depending on length of employment before it goes down), but gave you 2 weeks PAID FMLA. You could take that 2 weeks any time during the baby’s first year. It was up to you if you wanted to take the remaining 10 weeks of FMLA unpaid.
As someone who had a baby in the NICU (I know it was only 5 days, but it was 5 days I didn’t have to get used to a newborn) AND postpartum depression, 8 weeks is NOT enough. We couldn’t afford for me to go past my 8 weeks. I was at work just as my meds started working. I hate to think of what it would have been I had to be back at work before G was out of the NICU. Or what it would have been like if I hadn’t gotten on meds when I did, or if they hadn’t worked effeciently. Oh! And G went through a developmental change around 8 weeks, that was a challenge being back at work at the same time.
The countries that give you at least 1 year with pay are doing it right. If anything, it’s giving you a chance to cope with the baby’s developmental changes without having the stress of the demands of a job. It’s also giving the mom to heal physically and emotionally. After everything I’ve been through since G was born, I don’t think I was really ready to go back until G was about 11 months. Of course, then I became a SAHM.
My advice to anyone having a baby, or even planning to have one, if you have to work: always get the details of your maternity leave and short term benefits directly from HR/whoever is in charge of that. Don’t assume anything. And figure it out sooner rather than later. The last thing you want is to find out you’re wrong about something when you have a newborn. Plus, you will have time to plan financially if needed.
I actually just met with our district’s HR person this Tuesday and she told me that FMLA is only granted with a doctor’s note of disability. And since, as you said, the standard is 6 weeks, you would actually only get 6 weeks of leave with FMLA anyway. FMLA is also not paid (and most districts that do offer some money for maternity disability leave run FMLA concurrently with the paid disability), it just guarantees that you get your job back. This was not how it was explained to me the first time but this woman seems to know way more than the other woman did.
In my district I can get up to three months of leave if my doctor were willing to write me as needing that much time, but again, as you said it’s generally only six weeks. I have to use up all my sick leave during that time and then any of the six weeks that is left over (for me it’s three weeks because I don’t have much leave accrued, since I used it all for my last maternity leave), I get what’s called differential pay, so it’s basically my pay minus the sub’s pay. It ends up being about 1/2 of my pay check. So I will get three weeks of full paid leave and then three weeks of half paid leave. Then I found out that California has something called CFRA which allows me to take up to 12 weeks of leave for “bonding time.” This does not require a medical note (and is what I thought FMLA leave was, but I was misinformed, evidently). This actually runs consecutively at my district (which I didn’t know) so I could, technically, take 18 weeks off, 6 paid/half paid and 12 unpaid. Unfortunately we can’t afford 12 unpaid weeks so I’m not sure what I’ll do. I’m thinking of staying out for 3.5 months or maybe 4 but we can’t really afford that. We’re going to look at what we might be able to accomplish with credit cards and such.
Anyway, I’m REALLY sorry you don’t have coverage. That is really shitty. I’m glad you have some paid leave through the disability coverage you have, but five weeks is not NEARLY enough. And it sucks there is stress associated with being out. That is just a REALLY shitty experience all around. I hope you can figure out something that works for your family. You, and everyone else, deserves to be with their babies when they are born. Our system totally sucks.
Oh and I meant to add, is there any way your doctor would write that you needed longer to be out? Then you would get your 60% paid leave. A teacher at my school always managed to get her doctor to write her up for 3 months of paid leave! Maybe if you explain the situation to your doctor he can help you out. It’s definitely worth a shot!
I really don’t know much about maternity leave in any country, but this just seems unbelievable and I hate that this is the situation you are in right now. I know that the handful of friends I have in Nova Scotia who have babies (and aren’t SAHMs) have a year off with guaranteed return to position (not sure about pay in all cases..I know some of them are paid full at first then partial after a bit..most of my friends are teachers or government employees so I really don’t know how it works in all companies) but I have never heard of anyone getting anything like this. Ugg. Maybe you do need to move to Canada afterall! :/ Really sorry you are in this situation and hope you are able to find something that will work for you to still get the time off you want, but not have to struggle too much financially while off.
Oh man, I’m sorry to hear this. I too am wondering why I haven’t moved to Canada also! I work for myself (babysitting a few kids from home). Which, yes, we won’t have to pay for two kids in daycare, but I still would like some sort of maternity leave! And that will probably be UNPAID 🙁 Which I don’t know how we will manage. Ugh.
Ah, maternity leave. I crunched and crunched numbers when we had Matthew to figure out what the real impact was to us. I got 60% for 7 weeks (1st week was vacation tome) then paid the ready out of vacation bank, leaving about 5 days on the bank and taking a week or so completely unpaid. Then, I decided to stay home. Getting the lesser pay during mat leave made us realize we could make adjustments down to no pay.
It’s all rather ridiculous. It was not easy to sort out, that’s for sure. I’m sorry your plan sucks. Mine would have equally sucked without my accrued vacation.
Ugh! Just reading everyone’s stories is stressful. Like UrbanJungleGym as a grad student I can take unpaid time or no time. But I carry our insurance because R’s job doesn’t offer it. I went back with S at 5.5 weeks because otherwise I would have a semester of no pay (as opposed to crap pay) and we’d lose benefits. Oh, and R is a project-based employee so he was unemployed when S was born. It was a nightmare. I was an emotional basket-case. But we survived.
This time I have it much better because I’m on a fellowship with decent pay and I’ve been at my college for a few years so I had some negotiating power. I doubled my workload for the fall so I will be off but paid Jan – Aug (which is absolutely amazing!). I will be working on my dissertation, but that is at my own pace.
In looking at your graph would you be able to take 8 weeks and then maybe go back 2-3 days a week and the employee who’s covering for you keep on until 12 weeks.? Not ideal – but none of this is – but it would give you a few more days at home.
Oh, and I did find out that they are working on a parental leave in my grad program where you can take time off but keep your benefits, but it won’t go into effect until next academic year. It won’t help me, but I am glad I was part of bringing up the issues of parents in grad school.
I’m sorry Josey, that is so so hard. I can’t imagine going back after 8 weeks, and I know a lot of people don’t even get to stay home with baby that long. 🙁 I was super lucky to be able to stay home 12 weeks with 60% pay and another 6 weeks with my vacation time (I had A LOT accrued) and yet another 4 weeks unpaid. I know I’m incredibly lucky to have had almost a full 6 months at home with the girls (by the end of it, I was READY to go back!) It makes me sad that this is not a feasible option for more families. Hugs. Your anger and frustration is totally justified 🙁
So sorry to hear this, it totally stinks 🙁 I am a SAHM because with 3 ages 4 and under and the 4th due in January it just wouldn’t financially make sense for me to work to have them all in daycare/preschool. My husband moved here from Canada 15 years ago before we met (and is now a citizen) and my in laws have very good coverage and also my SIL had a year off with each of her 2 kids. I keep teasing my husband he may have to move back one day with us in tow lol. But seriously we have decent insurance and I still can’t believe the deductibles etc and once they are met we are still at 80/20 coverage. Just stinks 🙁
I know I am really lucky by U.S. standards, but I’m going to complain anyway because my work policy changed and I’ll still upset about it. We used to treat mothers who gave birth and mothers who adopted equally with full pay for 12 weeks. Now we give mothers who gave birth 14 weeks at full pay and mothers who adopt full pay for 8 weeks. Now, I know I’m not pushing a baby out of my vag, but there are other considerations with adopting children (like having to travel for extended periods to get them and needing more bonding time because they’re older and, um, adopted) that should be taken into account. Boo.
I wish you (and all of us) weren’t put in this position. I hope you figure out something that works that doesn’t sacrifice your time at home too much :/
I’ve never understood why adopted vs. giving birth was treated differently. Bringing a child home is bringing a child home. I do have one friend who’s daughter is now 6. When she was born he got no paternity leave, but had they adopted he would have been given 2 weeks paid.
Ugh, that would make me so livid!! Either way you’re bringing home a child. Not okay!
They actually REDUCED the leave for adoptions? That is pathetic! I see adoption and giving birth the same way and worth equal pay, but I can see how some (old fashioned) people may not. So if said people want to acknowledge the physical recovery needed for birthing a baby by ADDING two weeks – well – whatever! But to add for birthing mothers while decreasing for adopting mothers? NOT OK. Not OK at all!
But yeah, you still have some kick ass benefits at 8 weeks full pay. But still!!!!
I totally shouldn’t complain but we had the same thing happen hear (again I realize this isn’t AT ALL the same). I got screwed on the adopting vs giving birth thing too (up here in the great white north). My paid portion of leave was shorter. Dumbasses.
It absolutely baffles me that the *super power* that is the USA screws you guys over so badly. It just doesn’t make any sense. I am so sorry having a baby has to be such a financial stress on you guys. It blows. 🙁
My nephew (he’s 5 yrs younger than me) and his wife live in Japan, where she is given 1 YEAR (Yes, 12 ENTIRE MONTHS) of PAID leave and is guaranteed to return to her same position at the end of the year. That’s IF she doesn’t take the option of a SECOND ENTIRE YEAR off work at half-pay. If she does take the second year (which she’s planning on – their first baby was born Feb. 2013) she is still guaranteed her job back afterwards.
Welcome to Amurica. Home of the Free.
I qualify for 3 1/2 months of UNPAID leave. I can get Calif. disability at approx. half-pay for as long as a doc says I am physically unable to work. Which probably won’t be more than 6 weeks. But disability won’t kick in for a week or two (I think?) and will only kick in AFTER I’ve used up ALL of my available sick/vacation time. Similar to your situation it sounds like?
We can’t afford for me to take more than six weeks off, but here is where I am incredibly fortunate: I work for my family, in a child-friendly office. My dad (boss) has always encouraged his employees to bring their children to work, so I plan to put a playpen in my office and bring her with me every day. I’ll wear her all through my work day as long as she’s small enough, and eventually I’ll have a baby gate in my doorway so she can run around my office with toys… I plan to keep her with me at work until preschool starts. And if that doesn’t work, if she’s too distracting to my coworkers, I have permission to work from home part-time. Which I might prefer anyway. Not sure yet.
Honestly, if this wasn’t the deal, we wouldn’t have gotten pregnant. We don’t earn enough to pay for daycare and we certainly can’t afford for me to be a full time SAHM (which would be a dream come true), so the ONLY reason we were able to get knocked up is because I knew I’d be able to bring the kid to work.
Sorry this is so long… but I wanted to share. The whole maternity leave thing in the U.S. makes me irate – and the way our society devalues moms as a whole makes me CRAZY. I wish women had more options. As unhappy as I am about my maternity leave, I’m so, so, so grateful I’ll be able to bring Baby to work with me. Like I said, I wouldn’t even be pregnant if that wasn’t the case, so SUPER grateful.
This needs to be in the (overflowing) bucket of US issues that really need attention… it so feels like being punished for being with a teeny tiny person who needs and deserves all the attention and affection they can get those first weeks of life. Since it took us so many years to conceive, I had the days built up and could have taken 12 weeks of full pay but took 9 because of guilt of someone else doing my job. Why should we have to feel that way either? Ugh. Wish I had some better advice to offer but from the comments, you’re sure not alone! Smart to be planning and thinking now instead of finding out exceptions to the rules by “surprise” as that often happens too… adding more stress to a time that should only be seen as precious and protected!
Our office had 5 employees. There was no real question as to whether or not I would have a job when I came back. I was the only other lawyer and he needed someone. It’s a small town and lawyers aren’t jumping at the opportunity to move there. He was more than nice about things and paid me for six weeks. I was at home, not driving, not eating out, etc. so that six weeks of income took me further. I stayed home for six more weeks, doing contract work for him. I documented my time and was paid for time worked rather than salary. It worked out better than I imagined it would.
[…] – This month I was mostly focused on work / maternity leave issues and what to do about our daycare situation. Sometimes it sucks to have to buckle down and think […]