The United States’ parental leave policies have been gaining some traction in the last little while (see here, here and here); timely for me because I recently birthed my first child and knew very little of what that meant for me and my job as a teacher. I knew and had accepted the fact that I could take twelve weeks of UNPAID time-off, “thanks” to the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act), however I also knew that I could claim short-term disability, the only way to receive any pay while I was gone.
I found out some fun things after a phone call to HR:
- I would need to use ALL of my PTO and sick days while on maternity leave. Pro – I get paid for these days, but then I have NONE left when I come back to work. Con: Sick baby? Sick me? TOO BAD! No more sick days.
- The short-term disability insurance that my employer offers deems 6 weeks as sufficient time to “recover” from childbirth, and there is a 30-day waiting period before making a claim. So I was eligible for TWO weeks of pay. TWO WHOLE WEEKS! I know, I know… I am grateful – it was better than nothing. But aren’t we better than having to claim being DISABLED? Isn’t being at home with your newborn child (without financial worry) more about bonding with a new member of your family than recovering from injury? Of course it is.
In the end, the whole FMLA thing really infuriated me and it still does. I am grateful and lucky that I was able to take the twelve weeks off, but many people cannot afford to do that. (I am also convinced this is a huge reason as to why the teacher attrition rate is Utah is so high.)
So why am I talking about this? Well, Sam Brunson of By Common Consent recently wrote an article about defending parental leave as members of the church. He quoted Elder Cook from two different talks encouraging members of the LDS Church to protect the family. From one in 2011, Elder Cook says, “I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents.”
Brunson is conducting a survey (albeit, as he says, unscientific and probably unreliable) regarding parental leave and what your experience has been. So the more data he gets, the better his results are. It’s short and easy and I’m hoping there will be a easily tweetable infographic to show for it.
I’m also curious as to what your experiences have been regarding parental leave. Paid? Unpaid? How long? Did it make you so mad you wanted to rip your hair out and question how anyone has had children in this country? Please tell me!!