11.10.2006

Maternity leave clock

It's ticking! Soon, I'll be returning to work. I'm gearing myself up mentally for that, and I know I'll be able to handle the transition back, whatever challenges it will present. But however strong I may find myself, and however well I may be able to achieve some semblance of balance between work and new motherhood, I can still take this moment to lament the brutality that is this country's family leave policy, which roughly boils down to:

  • Twelve weeks maximum, federally, that your job is protected, meaning they have to hold your job open for you until you return. Remember, this hardly ever means your child is 12 weeks old when you return to work. Let's say you have any sort of pregnancy complication where you have to leave work before you deliver; your 12 weeks starts ticking as soon as you stop working. We do get another 12 weeks' leave in California, but that's unusual, and there's always the paid leave issue, as in...
  • ...There's no guarantee of paid leave. If your company is generous enough to provide any sort of paid leave, consider yourself very, very, very fortunate. There's no law requiring them to do this, as far as I know.
  • Six weeks disability (for a normal delivery), during which you qualify for whatever government disability you're eligible for. Any non-superwoman who's gone through childbirth knows this is the absolute bare minimum. You get two more weeks for a c-section, but from what I've heard about c-sections, man, two more weeks seems likely to be, again, the bare minimum.

    It's so stingy, brutal, lamentable. And my clock is ticking. But like Tutu always says (slightly paraphrased, of course), "[Working mom] happiness takes [superhuman] strength!"

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  • 2 comments:

    Mary Tsao said...

    I've always thought that it's a shame that as soon a mom gets into a good routine and feels comfortable caring for her baby, she has to switch gears and go back to work.

    I like Canada's leave policy, which is a full year off work. I'm not sure how much they get paid -- if it's similar to disability paying only a percentage of the mom's salary or if it's full pay.

    Even if it's only a percentage, I'm sure most families could swing a reduction in income for a year. C'mon, America, get with it!

    Elizabeth said...

    Canada's policy is that you get Employment Insurance that pays 50-60% of your salary, up to a certain limit. I think the first 3-4 months have to go to the mother, and then the rest of the year the parents decide how to split who works and who is off. At least, that's what I understand from a Canadian friend who is currently on leave with her baby.

    I think in the UK women get 90% of their pay for 6 months, and then can take and additional 6 months unpaid.

    Australia's not bad either.

    And, um, there are your random, unsolicited facts about other countries' maternity leave policies.