lessons in leave

Don’t let career stop you from having a family or kids. It’s takes balance and prioritizing, but you don’t have to choose. You have rights when it comes to your maternity leave.  Get familiar with FMLA and your employer’s policy.  Here are three recs for successfully going on maternity leave.

1. Connect first with HR, not your department/boss. HR will explain policies, the department and your boss have to comply and often does not know the details.

2. Your employer cannot force (!) you to take short term disability at reduced pay as part of your maternity leave. No matter how pressed they are about this approach, you DO NOT have to do it. A former employer “offered” someone weeks at 60% pay. Exhaust all your 100% paid sick and vacation leave first.  You don’t have to accept the reduced pay if you don’t want to.

3. Use your leave for things you WANT to do. You’ll have plenty of time while you are feeding to work on personal or even professional development.  Use the time to connect with family, bond with your baby, shop responsibly, or rest.  If you’re not the mom who can sleep while the baby sleeps, then pick up a hobby in between feedings and diaper changes.  Work small tasks on a business you’re building, and do self-care. Not everyone actually wants to be locked in a house and sit still for months, and that’s ok.  Get dolled up and go somewhere.  We’re all different kinds of mothers.

Hopefully your workplace is supportive of new parents. The United States ranks poorly in paid parental leave policies compared to the rest of the globe.  Know your rights and advocate for yourself.