Maternity Leave

Maternity leave laws in this country suck.  They’re horrible!  Absolutely horrible!  I live in NC and here, the only thing that we’re entitled to is the 12 weeks of unpaid leave that the FMLA stipulates that all men and women should get.  Now, a lot of people can get great maternity benefits through their company.  They might qualify for disability insurance for 6-8 weeks, and if they’re lucky way more, and therefore get a portion of their salary paid to them while they’re on leave.  The bad news is that if you work for a really small company (like I do) they will 99.99% of the time not have any kind of maternity benefits at all.

I’ve been asking my employers for months to tell me about the maternity benefits here, and I kept getting put on the back burner.  I was finally told yesterday what I was entitled to, and you know what I get?  Nothing, zip, zlich and squat.  I can take the 12 weeks of unpaid leave, but I can’t afford to go for 3 months without a paycheck (I can’t afford to go for one month without a paycheck – which is why I can’t be a stay at home mom), and by the time that the baby comes, I’ll only have a little over two weeks of paid time off accumulated.  Which means that I’ll have to go an entire month without a paycheck (and that’s the best case scenario).

This news could not possibly come at a worse time.  The NC government decided it was going to change how teachers are paid for this upcoming school year, and instead of getting paid August – May, they’re now getting paid September – June.  What’s wrong with this?  Well, it’s the fact that now it looks like my husband and I will not be receiving ANY paycheck for the month of August.  This caused me to burst into tears all through cooking dinner last night because I can’t figure out how we’re going to make this work.  I have to take at least 6 weeks off, no daycare will take a baby younger than that – and I can’t bring him to work.  J can’t stay home with him in August because that’s when band camp starts.  Right now we’re saving as much as we can and living as frugally as we can so that when August comes we won’t be destitute.  All of this would have been nice to know months ago, so that we could have really planned.  I just don’t know how we’re going to make it through the summer with hardly any money coming in.  It’s really very scary.  I know that we’ll make it work and I’ll think of some sort of plan and we’ll put it into action, but for the moment I can’t think beyond the fear.

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3 thoughts on “Maternity Leave

  1. I think this is the part where I would pitch I crying and screaming fit in front of my employer. Make it a very showy, embarrassing scene. Threaten that these employers might not get to hang out with your baby unless they cough up some damn money for PAID maternity leave! (Which, by the way, is the STANDARD in the rest of the world.)

    It’s clear to me that you mean very little to them, so they should get few, if any, of the perks of being grandparents.

  2. Zoe,

    It is nothing to do with them not caring about Manda or the baby. 99.9% of small companies simply cannot afford maternity care. While this is AWFUL, it’s just a cost they cannot cover right now. Furthermore, they must separate their roles of employer and grandparent. Another woman at the company just want on maternity leave, and if they gave Manda some perks they did not offer to other employees, that would open the door for all sorts of problems (legal and otherwise). They have offered us additional means of help and options, and are doing everything they can. No one is perfect, and this is an unfortunate situation, but it doesn’t mean that they love me, Manda or Poppy Seed any less. Hopefully, this will open their eyes and we can encourage them to look for ways to offer SOME sort of paid maternity/paternity leave in the future, but for the time being they are doing everything they can to be helpful. It’s a tough decision, but that does’t mean they should be punished for having to make it.

    – J

    • Here’s the thing — the company is not THAT small. The last time I heard, they had 98 employees, which I’m sure you know is the very edge of where small business meets large. So, while they are technically a small company, they are not that small and they probably won’t be a “small” company for too much longer.

      Second, what’s awful is not that the company doesn’t have a maternity plan – the real devil is the fact that women’s health is the very bottom of the list of priorities. I am sure that this company could make some concessions if they really, truly wanted. Most companies don’t really want to; pregnancy discrimination is one of the most common kinds of employment discrimination because it is SO easy to get away with. This is say nothing of the fact that returning to work after two weeks of leave is not great on Amanda’s health. I understand that this is a tough decision, but I have no qualms about saying that they absolutely made the wrong choice because they choice to devalue Amanda’s health. What was more important to them than that? What was on the other side of the scale?

      On a different note, I will never, EVER listen to your father talk about republicans and family values ever again because I am not certain he values family at all.

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