Maternity Leave Ethics - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-29-2001, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
cynthia mosher's Avatar
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Author Topic: maternity leave ethics
Member posted 03-09-2001 05:42 PM
I have a question for you all. This is kinda a hypothetical situation, but the time to be making decisions is rapidly approaching and I'm having a dilemma. I'd post this on the pg boards, but you all have kids and have already made your choices about maternity leave and the return to work, so my question is this:
I just don't know what to do about my maternity leave if I do get pregnant this summer. I don't know if I want to return to work afterwards. I have a few friends who think it's unethical to use my maternity leave if I'm not sure 100% sure I'll return, and a few friends who encourage me to use it and not worry about what my work thinks.

I work in a permanent administrative assistant job with great benefits and I could get up to 4 months fully paid maternity leave. I love my boss and my coworkers, and I don't want to burn bridges because it's a nice place to be in general. I think my time here on earth could be more wisely spent as a mother, doula etc. which is what'll I'll do for work as a new mom.

I will be the first person to get pregnant in my department EVER. Others are parents, but interestingly, they are ALL men, and they are all "company men" fully committed to putting work first and family second. Returning to this job is not an option - I work at least 10 hours per day and I intend to nurse, and I don't want my kid in preschool for that long.

This is NOT a family friendly place, but the only place I can make great money and have fantastic health insurance for pg and birth.

I really would appreciate some advice and your opinions.

Is it unethical to use my leave if I'm unsure about returning? There are pros and cons to both sides.

Is it my earned time off for six years of service to this billion dollar company?


[This message has been edited by madison (edited 04-03-2001).]

unregistered posted 03-09-2001 06:14 PM
I also worked in the film community before becoming a SAHM and incidently, I know quite a few lesbian mommies in LA - we should get together!

anyway, here is what I did...I was hired by my boss and my salary was then deducted from my bosses budget. Since my leaving or staying would affect his budget, I opted to tell him my plans upfront, like this: I do not think that I will want to return after I have the baby, however I feel that I am entitled to my state maternity disability leave, as I have been paying into State Disability during my entire tenure working for him.

Therefore, I got 6 weeks paid disability leave.

If I were you, I would look into the Family Medical Leave ACT which allows you one year of unpaid leave to be with your child after your maternity leave is up - then they have to hire you back to your position at the same salary, etc...

I would take advantage any benefits that you have as respectfully as you can.

Holistic Momma
Member posted 03-09-2001 07:23 PM
I was in the work force for a number of years and saw that very thing. The woman would take her maternity leave and then not return to work. So I don't think it is as uncommon as you may think.
I have often thought about this even though it has never arisen in my life. I'm not particularly fond of corporate America so I would not hesitate to use my maternity leave. I'm sure I would suffer a pang of guilt every now and then, but I still wouldn't return.

Member posted 03-09-2001 11:22 PM
Actually FMLA only gives you 12 weeks. Its very common for women to "quit" at the end of maternity leave. My boss made the decision for me when I told him I'd be pumping at work. oh well I didn't want dd away from me for 11-14 hours a day anyway
My unemployment ends soon so i'll have to go to work

Member posted 03-10-2001 05:14 AM
Take it!
You're going to be a single Mom. What happens if you get to the end of your leave and realize that you don't have enough income from your alternate plan?. Going back to work for a few weeks and pumping while you look is better than being stranded. (Hey, if you're lucky you might get fired like HeatherM ) I'd leave the decision officially "open" - just because you know what you want doesn't mean you need to unneccessarily eliminate options!

Heck, How much vacation do you have? Can you take it as half days? I don't think women who intend to come back and change their minds after being home are morally obligated to return, and I don't think you need to make the decision officially until you get there.

Member posted 03-10-2001 06:09 AM
Take it! You need it and they can afford it. It would be different if it were a small, struggling family-owned business, that's teetering on the edge. But paying a longtime worker for 4 months and then hiring a training a replacement is not going to put them out of business! Especially if you make yourself available for training your replacement and effecting a smooth transition.
I used to worry about the same thing. (After all, the main reason I took this job was to get health insurance so that I could have a baby!)But my boss has reassured me that it's not unusual for people to have babies and then decide what they want to do about work, and that what matters to him is that I do my job well as long as I'm there. So although I've only been here a year and a half, I've done my best to do a good job -- that's about all I can do. Really, employee turnover is par for the course!
And I would second the opinion in the previous post that you don't really know if you can afford to quit altogether -- best to keep your options open and take it a day at a time and not make any hard and fast decisions till you have an alternative in place. Maybe you want to apply for a one year leave of absence instead of quitting, as a way of keeping your options open? That's what I'm thinking of doing.

Moderator posted 03-10-2001 07:04 AM
Hi people. I don't want to make you all sick, but I do want to encourage you all to move to Vancouver Canada, where as of Jan 1 this year, we get ONE YEAR PAID MATERNITY LEAVE!!!!!
You can take this whether or not you intend to return to work. My employer (the gvt) tops up my wages and pays benefits during the leave, but....if you do not return within 18 months you have to pay back the top up and benefits. I think this is very fair. The actual mat leave benfits (59% normal wages) are paid by the federal gvt, and you do not have to pay these back if you do not return.
Take the money and run all the way to Hollywood North!

Member posted 03-10-2001 07:46 AM
Willow, that sounds great. I wish the US had that kind of policy.
Madison, I say take the maternity leave. You can't predict the future, so it's best to keep your options open. Some unforeseen major expense could arise that could force you to go back to work early. Or you may decide after being at home for a while that that is not the best situation for you. You can't really know how you'll feel until after the baby is born. If you find that you want or need to work, you'll still have that option.

unregistered posted 03-11-2001 12:04 AM
Madison, your maternity leave is not payment in advance for future work. It is a benefit that you have already earned. Do not feel guilty!

Moderator posted 03-11-2001 06:09 PM
Madison, I would take the paid leave and then see if you can take on the unpaid Family and Medical Leave time (which is 3 months nationwide, unless it is longer in California).
This will give you the cash you need and the space to figure out your financial and work situation knowing that you could always go back if you really needed to. Right now you know that you don't WANT to go back, but what if you need the psychic security of knowing that it is there (maybe you can even bargin for part time) if you really need it.

Also, wouldn't it be cool to tell them "I could try to come back part time if you understand that I will be working shorter days, pumping 3x a day and it's on a trial basis..."

I think you are going to be a fantastic parent!

Lori W
Member posted 03-11-2001 07:04 PM
I started a job when I was 5 months pregnant, then took maternity leave and didn't come back. It's expected that you will take your maternity leave. The decision to come back or not is best made when your maternity leave runs out. So...yes, take it!

Moderator posted 03-12-2001 12:54 AM
I'm also in L.A. I took my maternity leave but knew in my heart that I wouldn't want to return to work. It helped that I wasn't too crazy about the job. On leave, I was just getting the disability checks, no pay from the job at all and I had to pay an amount to continue my benefits. VERY IMPORTANT: Don't forget that your benefits may also cover your child for the first 60 days or so. Maybe more. Mine did, and boy, did we need it as there were some complications.
I didn't feel guilty about not going back. Not at all...especially since a job promotion promised to me became a new position that I was invited to apply for--resume, cover letter and all! My boss kept implying that as a mom I probably wouldn't be able to put in the extra hours required for the job. (Hint, hint: you won't get the job.) Of course, my old position, stripped of the little bit that was interesting about it, would still be waiting (legally it had to be). Gee, thanks.

I'm still at home with my son at 21 months.

Take the leave, think about it. Then do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your child. That's the most important thing.


unregistered posted 03-12-2001 07:07 AM
About FMLA - You have to been employed for a full year before you are eligible for this benefit. Although I had worked for my boss for more than 3 years - his contract was transferred to new owners and when that happened, I officially hadn't been under the new owners contract a full year, so I was not eligible. Read all of the fine print.
Also, be aware that your medical benefits my not cost you anything right now, but the same policy will triple if you buy it as an indiviual - e.g. As an employee I was apying $100 a month for incredible insurance - to COBRA I would have to bay $800 for the 3 of us.

Good luck!

Moderator posted 03-12-2001 09:57 AM
willow, i'm jealous!!!!

Member posted 03-12-2001 06:15 PM
Hi Madison,
I know how you feel. Before I got pregnant a manager at my job criticized women who knew they would never come back to work after having a baby. 6 months later, I'm pregnant and I KNEW that I would never go back. I felt strange about it knowing what the executives would think- they were good people and I didn't want to burn bridges.
So I devised a plan.
I told everyone, "Yes, of course I'm coming back!" Even my friends at work I told them the same. After my baby was born I'd visit them with my newborn and when they asked again I said, "yeah, it will be hard..."
When it was time to go back, Human Resources called me to check in and I told them that I was totally in love with my baby and I couldn't return. They were wonderful about it and wished me good luck and believe me, there were no hard feelings. I was replaced, life moved on and I never looked back.
COBRA was only $ 219.00 a month and it lasts for 18 months.
I wish you the best.
You are a brave woman and I hope everything turns out ok.

Member posted 03-13-2001 08:53 AM
Thank you all for your thoughts! I really do want to take this leave eventually becuase I know it would give us a good start, thanks for pointing out things I hadn't considered. I look forward to hearing any more thoughts that you have.
Iguanavere (funny name, hehehe) I'd love to talk! Which studio did you work at? Email me at [email protected] if you have time. OH, and I've already asked about COBRA'ing my benefits, and it'll cost about $250 per month. Pretty steep, but I'm also looking into private insurances. Ugh.

Willow, I'm jealous of you all in Canada! BC is gorgeous, too. (I'm from Spokane, so we visited BC frequently - we vacationed in the San Juan islands and took day trips to Vancouver and Victoria).

I also like the idea of talking about returning, saying I'd be willing to work 8 hours max, pumping in the morning and afternoon and taking an hour lunch to nurse Their heads would spin all the way round! Actually, if I could find another mom for a job share situation (and both work 5 or 6 hours) that might work! I know many producers now because of my current job, this might be an option....I do like production, but I also want to work as a doula and spend the majority of my time with my kid. See, brainstorming works!

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