As I approach my final months of pregnancy with Finn, I’m acutely aware that I should probably take a bit of leave. With Ella, I was smack in the middle of a project and was working from the hospital.
And when I got home, I just kept going. It didn’t bode well for my mental state. But with that being said, I’m also self-employed, so it’s not like I have a “maternity leave.”
Which then got me thinking about some of my friends who do have maternity leave and what they’ve done before having their babies. The FMLA is great, but depending on how big a business you work for, your rights vary. Some small businesses don’t have to hold your job at all … while other businesses go above and beyond and offer to pay for their employees to take time off with their children.
So, how do you figure it all out?
The first step is knowing what rights you do have. Read about the FMLA at the Department of Labor website; while the Act specifies that a company must hold an employees job, it only has to do so if they company has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. Additionally, you must have worked a minimum of 25 hours per week for the last 52 weeks.
The next step is to investigate both whether the state you live in has any additional parental leave laws that extend the scope of the federal FMLA and to check in with your company as well. What do they offer? Decide if you want to take personal, sick, or vacation time during your leave and how much time you really want to take off. Some women prefer not to take an entire 12 weeks off.
And finally, have a candid conversation with your boss. Do whatever you can to work out an arrangement that will work for you … maybe that means a full eight weeks off and then part-time work for a few weeks. Maybe it means all 12 off.
Or maybe, just maybe, you could even use the conversation to get your employer to consider a part-time work-from-home arrangement.
How did you negotiate your maternity leave? Was your employer easy to work with or difficult?