View Full Version : Maternity Leave -FRUSTRATIONS

10-07-2002, 02:38 PM
I was reading the last post and decided to ask for more insight on the topicÖ..

I have not taken leave yet, so have no experience with that yet! Due with first 12/24.

My employer allows the minimum allowed by US law, 12 total weeks including time gone out before (6 weeks disability plus 6 weeks FMLA). I am lucky in that I get paid 100% for the disability portion

It seems this is the standard based on the last postÖÖ. Is that the case? Are others frustrated by that? I feel like I would be being penalized for having to go out before the birth and that doesnít seem fair! Does that mean if I were to go out 10 weeks prior (due to some serious medical reason) I would only have 6 weeks home with baby (they canít take away the 6 weeks disability you are entitled due to the birth)???!!

I am going to try to work as long as possible. Iím in week 30 and doing OK so far. But I do have a 2 hour commute on train/subway that involves a lot of walking and stairs. I think I will have to go out at least 2 weeks prior based on what my doctor recommends.

I guess I just canít get over the fact that we are not guaranteed the 12 weeks AFTER. I donít even mind that they are unpaid. I was totally naÔve on the topic before I got pregnant and I guess I just thought we had come farther that (women in the workplace). I should point out that I work for a Fortune 500 company that claims to have progressive family policies!! (Donít even mention flex-time or working from home, they ainít having it!!). I probably shouldnít complain because Iím sure there are people out there that have it worse.

Whheeew. I just needed to vent. Any one else feeling frustrated by this or am I just insane and expecting too much? I am planning to come back to work, but being a career Mom is going to be a lot harder than I thought!!! I guess I will have to take it one step at a time. Thanks for listening, anyone who stayed around to read this lengthy complaining postÖ..any insight would be appreciated.

10-07-2002, 07:47 PM
I'm a little confused by your post. FMLA entitles you to take 12 weeks. (http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/fmla/) Unfortunately, the policy for many companies is that any company or state sponsored leave time runs concurrent with FMLA. And any leave you take before having the baby that isn't disability would count against those 12 weeks.

According to US law, you are actually entitled to ZERO paid time off for maternity leave. If your company doesn't have to comply with FMLA, your company is not even required to allow you any UNPAID leave! Depending on the state you live in, some states have short term disability insurance which covers post-partum women. Usually this is capped at 6 weeks for a normal vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a Cesarean delivery. Unless your doctor puts you on disability for some reason before you deliver, it is unlikely that you qualify for any paid leave prior to your delivery. If your doctor tells you not to work the last 2 weeks, then have them write a note/prescription for that and you may qualify for paid short term disablility during that time.

It is so confusing because your actual benefits vary depending on the state you live in and the company you work for. The company I used to work for was pretty "progressive". I got 6 weeks of short term disability (even though I had a Cesarean). Since I had been with them for more than 5 years, I got 100% of my salary for that 6 weeks. I could also take FMLA subsequent to that, so I got 6 weeks paid and then 12 weeks unpaid. In addition, my company had a policy called "Balancing Work and Family Leave" which allowed me to take up to a year of leave unpaid and they still promised me a job at my same pay grade when I returned (but not necessarily my same job).

It is important that every woman talk to your Human Resources personnel so that you understand your benefits and what you are entitled to so that you can make educated choices about your leave options.

10-08-2002, 07:18 AM
Thanks for the info. I didn't realize some companies gave so much less. Now I don't feel as bad. My company gives the 6 weeks disability for a normal delivery -The FMLA is concurrent-- so I get a mximum of 12 weeks.

Its nice to know that there are some companies out there with generous policies!

10-08-2002, 11:16 AM
Also if I am not mistaken...FMLA is for companies with over 50 employees in a certain area. Not all companies are obligated to it if less employees...

10-08-2002, 01:07 PM
Yep, I think you're right. And beware that FMLA only guarantees you a position if your position (or similar position) still exists. It doesn't matter if your company decides to lay people off on your last day of maternity leave. My position was eliminated (along with about 15 others). I did get about 6 weeks of severance pay, however. Which I perhaps stupidly used to purchase my stock options, which are now pretty much worthless (the IPO didn't go well--darn tech companies!). Oh, well. If I hadn't purchased them, you know the stock would have gone through the roof! Oops! Sorry for straying a little off-topic....

10-10-2002, 01:06 PM
FMLA doesn't even kick in if you haven't worked for a specified time. I started a new job in August; baby's due in January. Any time I get off is solely at the discretion of my supervisor (I'm a law clerk for a judge - the appointment is for a year, so FMLA doesn't apply). I plan on working basically until I go into labor. I will be able to take off 6 weeks afterwords, but that's because my judge is wonderful and is trying to be accomodating. Any paid time will be from my vacation, sick leave and personal days. Needless to say, a big chunk of the 6 weeks will be unpaid. Fortunately, I have a husband who's gainfully employed, and savings. I also had a fellowship through law school, so I don't have to worry about student loan payments!

(expecting our first 01/03)

11-20-2002, 08:33 AM
We are very lucky that my wife works for Merrill Lynch and will receive 3 months off with pay following the birth of our twin daughters.

Since she is having twins, she will stop going to work around the end of the 7th month. ML has set her up for working at home( She will work part-time at home) and will pay her full salary for the 2 months before the birth.

Hopefully, they will be so pleased with the work-at-home performence that they will allow my wife to work at home a day or two a week permanetly.

Now, unlike my wife's firm, my firm provides nothing. I don't even get 1 day for the birth of my child, any days I take off have to be saved vacation.

11-20-2002, 01:48 PM
Keep in mind that FMLA applies to Daddies too!!! :)

I worked up until the day before I went to the hospital (2 weeks overdue) and got only 5 weeks off because they _really_ couldn't do without me. (That said, I work close to home and have a couple afternoons off each week and a long lunch.)

But, luckily for us, Daddy worked for a larger company and took 12 weeks FMLA after I went back to work. It worked well for us and dd has a real bond with him as a result.

I know it doesn't help to make your maternity leave any longer, but it can help if you are worried about having to put your little one in daycare sooner.

Good luck and hang in there,


11-20-2002, 02:08 PM
I really can't add to what everyone else has said re: FMLA because it's all in line with what I have read and understand to be the case. In re: companies with good maternity leave policies, they do exist. If I had not been laid off (had nothing to do w/ my pregnancy; they didn't even know), I would have gotten up to 16 weeks off at disability, payable at 55% rate of salary. I thought it was pretty generous, considering that I could have spent 12 of those weeks out with NO pay.

It's not so much that I think maternity policies are unfair -- they aren't as progressive in the U.S. as they are in other places -- but at least we get them. My husband's company (a MAJOR IT company) doesn't offer ANY leave or have any policies for paternity leave. It's all ad hoc based on what he can get from his manager (who is pretty progressive, so I am hopeful).

11-25-2002, 11:30 PM
I am in California where we get additional time off under CFRA. However, I got 4 weeks before on disability (roughly 60% salary paid by state), 6 weeks after on disability (same), then the other 6 weeks FMLA unpaid PLUS another 3 or 4 months (can't recall now b/c I didn't go back) unpaid.

My employer didn't pay anything, but if I had opted for some elective disability insurance I think I would have received full pay for the 4 weeks prior and 6 weeks post.

Mommy to Jonah

11-26-2002, 02:55 PM
Been there. I had to go out on early, unplanned maternity leave at 29 weeks due to early contractions. I ended up being overdue (despite constant daily contractions!) and delivered at 41 weeks. That means I had about 10 days left of FML after my dd was born. I then ended up going on a leave of absence. Though I was full-time before, I ended up going back to work part-time after 8 weeks. I didn't feel that there was too much of a threat to my job given that they couldn't even find anyone to sub for me while I was gone! My employer was incredibly understanding the whole time, just telling me to take care of myself and baby and not worry about work. We also had 2 other women out on maternity leave at the same time so I know it was rather stressful there, but my office is all women so everyone pretty much understands. My hosptial also got ranked as one of the top 100 employers by Working Woman magazine and 60 percent of their work force is female. We also are also third in the nation in delivering babies. It's in their best interest to be a little understanding.

I am a physical therapist whose job requires a lot of standing and occasional heavy lifting, so there was no work at home option for me. Thankfully, I had about 5 years worth of sick leave to burn along with vacation I had been saving. My boss let me spend my paid-time off leave at a slower rate so I ended up being paid a little less but got my check until about 6 weeks post-partum. I also had purchased a short-term disability policy the year before and got some benefits in addition to my salary. Because I got pregnant before the policy took effect, I was only able to get a reduced benefit, but any litle bit helped. I will get full benefits starting after 30 days with my next child. I was also able to defer my student loans until after I went back to work.

Since I am now part-time, I am not going to be working the required amt of hours to qualify for FML next pregnancy. There's a good chance the same contractions thing will happen to me again. I hope my employer will able to be understanding again since I am a good employee with 2 specialities. They also have been flexible with several other women in my office who didn't qualify for FML. We are lucky. My theory is that after having gone through what I did, that if my employer was going to cut my job then $%*! them. I'll get another job. Nothing is worth more than your health or your children. I belive maternity leave/family leave in general is pretty poor in this country, and until the FMLA it was worse. Luckily, my hubby's job is very understanding too about him taking family leave (he works for the Fed. Govt) so we don't feel as much strain as the corporate america folks. I investigated what other countries have (1 year paid leave in Sweden for example) and the US is lagging way behind.

Good luck. I hope everything works out for you. Remember if you end up with a healthy baby that's all that really matters. If you lose your job, was it really a loss anyway? Would you want to work for a place that really didn't care about you or your baby? You can always get another job, not another you or baby. Enjoy your pregnancy, do what your doctor says, lose any guilt, and take leave when you need to.

mom to Meghan
born 7/13/01

11-27-2002, 09:09 AM
Thanks for the words or encouragement. I am writing this from my desk at work...just started my 37th week. Next week is my last.....Unless the Dr tells me otherwise at this Saturdays appt (my first internal exam). I have been very lucky that I have had a wonderful pregnancy. I have only suffered with back pain, and mostly at night until recently (though if I werenít doing, as much I probably wouldn't have had so much at night).

Working hasn't been bad, though sitting all day is not great- I am better when moving. I am a financial analyst at the corporate office of a lrage retail chain, si I am basically at my computer or in meetings all day. What has made it difficult for me is a 2hr each way commute. And the lack of support from my boss. Just yesterday she asked me "When is your last day again??" "What, only 1 more week..when are you due again??". On top of that I am trying my best to make the transition as easy as possible on the coworkers who will be taking over my responsibilities while I am out (no replacements here) and she doesnít even want to be involved with that (she has too many other things she rather I do---not realizing I won't be here to do them soon. I am sure I will be getting a lot of calls while I am home!!

But you are right your baby and your health are more important than your job. I don't feel much support from my employer as a pregnant woman and know it won't be any better as a new Mom. My plan is to come back to work, but then start looking for a job closer to home, perhaps part-time. I think we can swing it with me making much less money and I rather be at home a much as possible. I work in NYC and finding a "good job" in my field will be difficult in the suburbs, and a part-time job in my field probably impossible. I will likely end up doing something totally unrelated just to get the hours/location I want. My career will definitely be taking a major back seat and I am now totally OK with that and I am sure I will be even more OK with that when the little one arrives!

You are fortunate to have supportive coworkers and I hope they continue to be supportive with your next pregnancy. Thanks again for your supportive words.

OK...I guess I better get back to work....