…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?