Monday, March 15, 2010

Maternity leave, redux

I am happy to share that I have been given the ok to taken extended leave without pay after our new baby arrives! The due date is May 30th (and here's hoping baby is more patient than her older brother, who came 4 weeks early), and I will be out until December 1. I have sick and vacation leave saved up that will last for about the first 6 weeks, then I'll be on leave without pay--but I will be allowed to come back afterward. I should probably say that, until my last form is turned it, nothing is 100% certain. Still, I have an acknowledgment in writing, and my director announced how long I will be out to the rest of the staff, so my general feeling is: HOORAY!

A few more notes/observations about maternity leave:
  • I still need to figure out if I (and our kids) can stay on the state health insurance plan, even if we have to pay the full cost out of pocket. Health insurance adds an extra layer of complication to taking off time or staying home altogether, because you both aren't making money and have to pay for health insurance--ah, for a socialist health system!
  • A LOT of it has to do with your relationship with your supervisor(s). I have a good relationship with mine and I think they like my work, so I feel like they were more willing to make my case to the HR department.
  • In the public sector, at least, even supportive supervisors have to work within the framework of policy. I looked up information on extended leave without pay before I asked.
  • Family and Medical Leave has (in my opinion) some issues beyond lasting only 12 weeks. You have to get a doctor to sign off on your time--even though the "caring for a newborn child" provision of family and medical leave has nothing to do with a medical issue! I don't want to take time off to "recover" from giving birth (yes, that is necessary, but for a normal birth, 2-4 weeks would be plenty for that). I want to take time off to spend time with a new human being in my life!
  • There's something to "ask and you shall receive." Maybe not always. But when I dutifully followed "What to Expect's" guidelines and met with an HR rep to "find out my options" last fall, the option of taking 6 months off was definitely not presented. My husband and I figured it couldn't hurt to ask--the worst they could say was no.
  • It probably doesn't hurt that I work a shift that (most) people aren't dying to work. In some ways, this complicated things--the library had to present how they were going to cover those hours--but, on the other hand, my continued interest in working this shift probably contributed to my value as an employee.
There were some really interesting and helpful comments on my last post about maternity leave, so if you have more to share, please do!


Beth said...

Libby--I'm glad it worked out. It's good that you all have the means for you to take six months off, because that time is so critical. I'm hoping when I need maternity leave to get four months, probably with three paid and one unpaid. Of course, we will have to wait and see what happens when I'm actually in that situation!

Congratulations again to you both! Babies are happy things!

Astra Libris said...

CONGRATULATIONS, Libby!! I'm so happy for y'all!!! :-)

Libby said...

Thanks for your good wishes!

Beth, we are indeed lucky that I can take 6 months off--this is partly because M. has a part time job, no tuition to pay, and a required, paid internship to complete over the summer, partly because of savings, and partly because we have wonderful families who will help out if we get in a bind!

I've found since having N. that we do a lot more changing our definitions of what is feasible (I would never have considered working until 1 AM before--and almost didn't anyway!) and also more relying on our families for help. We are very blessed that we can do that!