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.