Baby + Job = Uncertainty

26 Oct

Despite being a near-lawyer, I am embarrassed to say that I know next to nothing about laws governing maternity leave. So, when thinking about how I would handle maternity leave, I did what I always do in uncertain situations: research. And what I found started as encouraging:

In 1993the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was passed. It entitles most workers to up to 12 weeks of job-protected medical leave for birth or adoption. 

But then quickly went downhill:

However, the FMLA doesn’t cover those who work for smaller companies

I have three people in my office. Including me. So, I continued reading:

Most likely, you’ll use a combination of short-term disability (STD), sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid family leave during your time away from work.

Well, my company does not offer short-term disability insurance. So, that leaves me with sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid leave. Which means a very short maternity leave or a very unpaid maternity leave. So, it looks like disability insurance is a must for me, along with health insurance. But, information on disability insurance isn’t as easy to come by. Companies require you to contact a representative in order to get information or a quote. So, it looks like I’ll have to make this decision when I’m closer to getting pregnant and more willing to have representatives calling me all the time. ;P But, because I took the time to do this research now, I’m aware of the problem and will be able to deal with it when the time comes.

How did you handle your maternity leave?

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One Response to “Baby + Job = Uncertainty”

  1. Fantastico October 26, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    I think you dont have to worry about your job security – you have a specific skill that can not be easily replaced. Yes, there are a lot of law school graduates here because of the University. But GOOD graduates will always be able to demand top dollar and job security. I was talking with a nursing school student the other day (recently graduated and working, actually). He maintained that he was unable to demand higher salaries because there is such a high supply of nurses that hospitals can afford to pay a depressed wage. I have to strongly disagree – in hiring, as in purchasing, you get what you pay for. If you pay a lower salary, you will get a less skilled employee with a lack of motivation and commitment to your company. Even if you get 150 applicants for one nursing position, the salary in the advertisement doesnt change based on the number of applicants. Hospitals set a salary point depending on many factors – but generally they are based on the demand for service and regional economics – not the supply of professional labor. A nurse in NYC will make more than a nurse in Smithville Idaho because NYC residents have more disposable income (whether it’s personal income or income from their insurance carrier). Additionally, cost of living in NYC is much higher than in Idaho, so there has to be an adjustment in employee salaries. Adjustments to salaries of professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc) happens at the margin – if there are 150 other applicants willing to take your job, you can’t really demand a $5,000 salary bonus. Or, if you live in an economic zone that spends double the national average on heath care, you can probably expect a higher salary.

    The point is this – you have a marketable skill: being a lawyer. If your skill is worth your employers time/money they would be much better off waiting for you to return from maternity leave than trying to go through the expense of hiring someone new. Additionally, giving employee’s maternity leave is a great benefit to a company because it allows them to retain extraordinarily smart employee’s at almost no cost. In fact, one of the ways that IBM has dominated the Korean computer industry (even though it has only been in the market a few short years) is by doing what none of it’s domestic Korean competitors has done: Invest in specifically hiring women. While Korean companies saw women, and their associated maternity leave cost, as a negative IBM saw it as a way to easily acquire skilled, educated employee’s at a bargain price. It seems to have paid off for IBM!

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