Unpaid Maternity Leave – thoughts?

posted 1 year ago in Career
Post # 46
Member
72 posts
Worker bee

I get 16 weeks full pay, 10 weeks half pay and i suppose use hoiday allowance (28 days). That would be not far off 30 weeks off work before the money dries up

Post # 47
Member
2766 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Im in the UK and my company has an enhanced paid maternity leave policy. In the UK the leave and pay are separate. Every mother is entitled to 52 weeks leave but pay isn’t for as long.

At my company I get

16 weeks full pay, then 10 weeks at 50% pay then 12 weeks of government mat pay (£145 a week) then 13 weeks unpaid.

For everyone in the UK on mat leave you continue to accure you holidays too which will typically be 20 – 25 days leave plus the 8 bank holidays. A lot of women will use this holiday to suppliment the unpaid portion of leave. You also get any other benefits during this time.

I took the full leave and then my annual leave so I was off for 14 months (I had some holiday from the previous year I could use at the start of my leave). We had been trying for 2.5 years and had an IVF fund that we didn’t end up using so we were plenty able to afford the unpaid section.

It is unusual for anyone to return to work sooner than 6 – 9 months. We also have shared parental leave which means if a woman returns to work, her partner can take the remaining leave / pay. However most companies will only do this at the stat pay rates and not any enhancement.

The mother’s partner gets 2 weeks paternity leave – this is paid but will either be at £145 a week or some companies will enhance it (most do as it is only 2 weeks)

Your job is protected for the first 6 months. After the second 6 months you are entitiled to return to a role which is equivilent to the one you left (same pay and conditions)

We are lucky here for sure, but not as lucky as some in other European countries.

Post # 48
Member
9163 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

i had to use my own sick and annual leave for my maternity leave.

Post # 49
Member
1285 posts
Bumble bee

This is a dumb question, but how can you use your sick days? If you don’t get sick then you just call in and use it as a holiday? Can you just use all the days without proof of actually being sick? or does child birth count as a reason to have sick days? if you get sick later, do you then just go to work or stay home unpaid?

Post # 50
Hostess
9615 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

I get so fired up about unpaid leave in the US. It’s so unfair. Many places only give you 6-8 weeks, yet within the same states you’ll see laws for puppies stating they cannot leave their mothers until they’re 8 weeks old. How can we have more compassion for puppies than people? How can we expect to tear away mother from baby after 6-8 weeks, but not puppy from dog. It’s completely appalling.

I’m lucky that my future employer is the exception and not the rule in terms of maternity leave in the US. It was something I made sure to examine before accepting a position anywhere, as we know we’re going to start a family within the next year or so. The place I’ve chosen gives 13 weeks at 75% pay, the health insurance policy has a $0 deductible and it only costs $27/month to add your child on your policy. I can get an additional 6 weeks unpaid from the state. I feel absolutely lucky to have those types of benefits in the US. 

Post # 51
Member
2766 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

DrAtkins :  Is that right about the puppies? The law is understanding that puppies should be with their mothers until they are weaned but not human babies? That is some bats**t cray cray 

Post # 52
Hostess
9615 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

Twizbe :  Yup. In my “family values” state, maternity leave is 6 weeks, unpaid. But puppy laws are 8 weeks.

Post # 53
Member
1521 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: January 2015

kw617 :  This might be more explanation than you wish, but in Canada a small percentage of each paycheck gets put towards Employment Insurance (EI). To be eligible for maternity leave or EI payments you have to have accrued 600 hours of work, which if you work full time is ~15 weeks. So if you were to get pregnant on your first mat leave you’d have to go back to work for about 4 months to be eligible for a second mat leave.

Question for US bees – do you have any sort of safety net if you have to leave work to care for a sick parent/child or you are sick and can’t work? I’ve always wondered about that. In Canada, our EI covers those as well in case you ever need it.

ETA: I think it makes more sense for the government to pay mat leave because if a company is solely responsible they would, of course, want their employee back as soon as possible and not want to pay them when they are not working. I would also think it would be easier to find someone to cover a year contract than a 3 month one. US maternity leave is something that I struggle to get my head around.

Post # 54
Member
3540 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 29th, 2016

therobinsparkles :  My job does not offer paid leave or short-term disability. Your job is held for 12 weeks, and whatever additional time you can negotiate off with your supervisor is up to you to work out (you can use vacation and sick time or ask for unpaid time off). My husband and I have our own short-term disability policy, but I’ve also been putting away money each month to ensure that I will have enough saved to pay for all of my bills during my leave. We’re not TTC until August, but I started saving in January. I’m a little behind my goal, but plan to save more aggressively starting next month. Also, my state is rolling out a more progressive family leave policy, but my employer is exempt so I don’t think I’ll reap the benefits. It sucks. I wish I lived somewhere else. I’m not quitting my job over it because it’s otherwise a pretty good job and I carry our health insurance. But I will be relying on my husband a lot more when the time comes. 

Post # 55
Member
421 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

My state mandates 8 weeks unpaid leave. I work in the OBGYN department of a top hospital, and we technically have no paid leave (they quietly cover two weeks). My department can’t offer paid leave unless all the hospitals that are part of our university system also offer paid leave. It’s maddening. I took 12 weeks under FMLA and was paid for four with a combo of sick time and vacation. 

I wouldn’t quit my job over the lack of paid leave because for the work I want to do, the places that offer paid leave also pay a lot less, so over the long term I would be worse off financially. And in terms of ethics/morals, the places that pay better and offer paid leave have more serious ethical and moral issues than not offering paid leave, so you can’t win! 

We need paid leave, so please get involved! Check out http://paidleave.us/campaigns/ for a list of ongoing campaigns! 

Post # 56
Member
683 posts
Busy bee

US Bee. My company offers 12 weeks fully paid, and my husband gets 8 weeks fully paid. Which still doesn’t see like that much time, considering you just gave birth. My due date is in 7 weeks and I really want to try to make it right up until he is born so I don’t waste any of that time off just sitting at home waiting..  If you don’t have FMLA at your company, it is worth looking into the short term disability policy at your company or in your state. That may help you to get some sort of paid or partially paid leave.  

Post # 57
Member
2766 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Keroppi :  I agree. in the UK the government will pay the company back for statatory maternity pay. If they offer anything above that it is from their own generousity. You have to have worked a company for 26 weeks by the 15th week before expected week of childbirth to qualify for maternity pay. If you don’t you can claim maternity allowance from the government which is paid at the same rate.

You don’t need to have returned to work for any particular time period to qualify for another mat leave or pay. Some companies who offer enhanced payments do ask that you return for 3 months after your leave. I always think this is silly as you just delay the woman leaving rather than getting her to return and stay.

 

Post # 58
Member
9812 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’m in the US and my job just provides short term disability and with a vaginal birth that equals 4 weeks paid (well, partially paid- I think like 75% of your paycheck up to $500/wk cap).  They also do the 12 weeks unpaid FMLA.  I can bank my leave up to a certain amount (sick and vacation) and I get a lot of vacation and discretionary days (so extra vacation that doesn’t bank) so I was lucky enough to have my 12 weeks leave fully covered with my own vacation and sick leave time and still have some left when I came back.  My youngest is about 17mo and I’m lucky I’m already back up with a lot of vacation hours.  My sick leave balance stays pretty low since I do all of the doctor appointments and stay home with sick kids or my mother comes and stays with them (my husband is self employed/owns his own business so it’s more valuable for him to work since I have so much leave). 

So really, I used my own earned leave time.  I don’t think my company (it’s a nonprofit) has a good maternity leave policy (just standard short term disabillity insurance) but they do have a good vacation/sick/discretionary leave policy.

I think 6mo partially paid should be required by law.  Everyone else can make it work, so can we.

Post # 59
Member
9390 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Keroppi :  FMLA holds your job for you if you need to care for a sick family member or yourself, but it isn’t paid. At my work you’d have to use your PTO or take it unpaid.

Post # 60
Member
473 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

kw617 :  Not sure if this was answered for you, as I haven’t read the entire thread.

If you get pregnant right away again, you need to have enough hours to qualify for EI Mat leave again, which I believe is 600 hours in the 52 weeks prior to taking leave.  Working full time, that means I’d need to work 15 weeks without vacation/sick days etc to qualify.  Basically, if I were to get pregnant sooner than planned after this baby, I’d likely have to go back to work sooner to ensure that I qualified for leave again.

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