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Maternity Leave Advice...something's fishy?

882 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  annjo
Hello everyone!

I am pregnant with a late May due date. I am a teacher in NJ and have been for 9 years. I have told my district that I am pregnant and will need time off at the end of the year. ( approx. 34 days)

I was told by the head of human resources that I have enough sick days to use and it shouldn't be a problem. At first I didn't think anything of it because a lot of other teachers have done this as well but as I think more about it, something is definitely wrong with this information.

I've tried getting a straight answer as to what I am entitled to and how long but all I get is the run around from my district. The way I see it, if I use my sick days to go on maternity leave than I can't have another baby for 4 years until i accumulate enough sick days to do so. Also, this would affect my retirement because unused sick days are paid at the end. On top of all of this would be the fact that any woman in my district who has a child will automatically be at a disadvantage because men will always make out more in retirement.

Can anyone recommend somewhere to call for a straight answer? Our union reps are in the dark about this and I am not going to use my sick days if I don't have to.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

New Mom!
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First, you need to read your contract. My contract says I'm allowed to take 20 days before and 20 days after the EDD, using sick days. Then, I can use the new NJ Family Leave law (which pays 2/3 salary for up to 6 weeks). Then, I can use FMLA to maintain my benefits without getting paid. I am not being forced to use all of my sick days, but because it's only my 4th year in the district, I will be.

Here's the way it's working for me: my EDD is 3/8.

* My last day of work is 2/19
* I'm using sick/personal days until the day after spring break, so I'll get normal paychecks until then
* After that, I'm doing the 6 weeks of NJ Family Leave--I think I get paid through the state. Not sure, but I imagine that my "summer vacation fund" will be used then, and then my NJFL checks will come later. Just anticipating beaucracy!
* The last couple of weeks of the school year, the NJFL will run out, so I won't get any pay in June. I'll still be insured though.
* My contract says I can take up to a calendar year off, but I'll be returning to school in September due to financial constraints
* We get our sick days at the beginning of the year, so I'll start out the year with 10 sick + 3 personal + 3 family illness that I can use.

Your district can absolutely NOT dictate when you can have a baby. You just need to plan, financially.

If you don't have a copy of your contract, you may be able to find it online at NJ Perc:

Here's info about the NJ Family Leave Act:

Just be aware that if you are the first person in your district to take use the NJ Family Leave Insurance, you may struggle a bit with them. You are entitled to it, but they may not know how to do actually file for it. My colleague who was the first to take it in our district said that there was some confusion and some delay in getting her checks.
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Sounds right for what I went through. I had a baby two years into my time at the district in Oct. My last day was the day before my due date. I returned to work six weeks later. Ds was born on his due date. I had to use sick days and personal days if I wanted pay. This was before the new paid leave though. Good Luck
I also have to say, yes, it does "penalize" women over men in terms of getting those sick days paid at the end. But, I'd keep in mind a few things:

1. The paid sick day thing at retirement is a privilege that most people don't have. It's definitely not a right.
2. The paid sick day day at retirement thing may very well likely be gone, or at least be capped, by the time we all retire

Once again, I reiterate: if you can save money so you can be home without your paycheck, then you can have the baby any time you want.
i was going to suggest your union rep until you said you did that. w/ as many young women as there are in teaching, this has surely come up. i'd suggest talking/emailing another union rep.

good luck,
Thanks so much for the advice. In the thick of things I forgot to check my contract.

I spoke to another teacher this weekend who just had a baby and she too was told to use her sick days. My husband and I can afford, through careful planning, going on his salary for 6 to 10 weeks should I need but what makes my blood boil is that nothing was mentioned about partial paid materanty leave or FMLA.

Will update...thanks for the support
my husband (not a teacher) used NJ family leave for 6 weeks and was not required (never asked to even) use vacation or personal time, several where he works did the same and never used any time, they are also in a union and was told it is a NJ family program, outside of what is covered by his union.

I would double check directly with the state.
I used my sick days both times. Weekends and holidays don't count, so I had about 30 days saved with the first and used 22, then was able to use the other 20 I got for the 2 partial years and got a full leave (6 weeks) both times. I did also use some personal and family illness days, but it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be able to take a leave before that many years.

I wouldn't bank on those sick days at retirement. It's still such a long way away, and so much will change before then.

Wanted to add that I got the full 6 weeks I was entitled to be paid for as per my contract. I took off more time that that (and still am) unpaid.
When I had my first child almost 5 years ago, I was pretty surprised how difficult it was to patch together time away from my job. At the time, I was given 6 weeks of paid "maternity leave"--I know this is very generous compared to what some people are given. I knew, however, that I wanted to take the full 12 weeks allowed with FMLA. I was luckily able to pull this off, with essentially full pay. Since then the generous 6 weeks paid "maternity leave" has disappeared. It seems that the trend is in moving away from "maternity leave" and going toward a more general "sick time" which is gender neutral. I was told that there was a legal case in which "maternity leave" was felt to be discriminatory. Sorry, I don't have any of the details. It seems to me that this system DOES penalize women because of their unique biology! It would have been a lot easier for us if my husband had been able to breastfeed, etc. He's home full time!
Discriminatory?!?! I don't see men pushing babies out! We need time to heal! What kind of crap it that??
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Originally Posted by sleepingbeauty View Post
Discriminatory?!?! I don't see men pushing babies out! We need time to heal! What kind of crap it that??

Yes, I know! That was my reaction too. In moving toward a more gender neutral policy, we are starting to ignore some very basic biological necessities.
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