Monday, 21 September 2009

Maternity Leave

I've got a question that came to my mind after reading ...and baby makes 3!'s most recent post.

What's maternity leave like in the US? Kristi say's she was blessed to stay home with her son for 4 1/2 months before returning to work. Is that the extent of maternity leave in the USA? I was a little surprised when reading the post because I thought "Only 4 1/2 months?!"... Not of course anything against Kristi at all! But because...that's all the maternity leave you get?

In the UK the government pays you monthly for 8 months of maternity leave, you can then extend that to 12 months (not being paid for those last four months but still guaranteed your job back when you return). Usually your employer adds something to this scheme. Mine for example paid me 90% of my salary for the first 3 months of my maternity leave. The British seriously complain about this as well by the way, because the government doesn't pay you much more that 400 pounds a month when on maternity and in some places in Europe (Sweden being one) you get 1 years full paid maternity leave.

Now I am wondering if in fact, we should keep our mouths shut here in the UK (though I never did complain... I am lucky enough to not need to work etc. cause of husband's job. I choose to work part time) if the USA is so much worse.

And shockingly too!!

I feel like a bit of a lady of luxury now to be honest... I mean... I could not imagine putting my son into child care any earlier than I did (he was 1 when he started 3 days a week, though he had been going for 2 mornings a week for a month. to gradually introduce him) nor finding the emotional strength to HAVE to go back to work in the midst of weaning my son (My most favorite time!)...And Breastfeeding... How do you guys breastfeed if you are working after 4 months? Do you just not? Or do you pump?

I just... I can't fathom how you could manage. I know people do... of course they do. And I am sure they do more than manage. I just... Can't wrap my head around the fact that this is the United States of America I'm talking about. It just seems so behind the times.


JenJen said...

Maternity here is 12 weeks. 6 paid under "maternity" and 6 considered "short term disability."
At least, that's how my company at the time determined their benefit.

Theta Mom said...

I'm not sure about anything other than teaching, in my experience. I had to use every one of my sick days and I was granted up to 8 weeks paid. However, if you are non-tenured and/or don't have enough sick time banked, then you don't get anything paid. It's pretty crazy.

Eve said...

Jen- Short term disability? Wow.

Theta Mom- That just seems so harsh on new mum's...

A question for both: Do fathers get any kind of leave? My Husband got 2 weeks off paid, but I think he could have taken more...

ModernMom said...

Yikes! Great question and the answers are facinating! I'm in Ontario Canada and here the norm is 1 year. It's been more then a few years since I took a mat leave but I think my "Unemployment cheque" paid about 60% of my salary. Many companies top up the other 40%.
I have one friend who works for the Government in accounting and she can take a 5 year (unpaid)parenting leave. They will guarantee her a job upon her return!

~Katie said...

Hi! Just blog hopping and found your question....

It really depends on the company. For instance, the company I work for has no maternity leave plan. Talk to the boss. He's ok with you being gone for a couple of months if necessary (it's a manufacturing company, so hopefully it's durring off season; he'd probably have a heart attack if I told him I'd miss two months of busy season), but don't even THINK of getting paid for them. You can file for unemployment with the federal unemployment agency, but that's your only hope.

Some companies are 4 weeks, others six, others 8. Usually, a combination of sick leave, paid vacation time, etc. It really depends on if your boss is a jerk too.

I don't have any kids. I really wish I could, but hubby and I just can't afford them right now, especially since I wouldn't be paid for my time off.

And no, in the US, I have NEVER heard of husbands getting any leave, unless they used their vacation time or sick leave. And that can be difficult if they have to have their days palnned out ahead of time. Which means it's usually down to unpaid sick time.

I agree, it's a pretty nasty arrangement.

Eve said...

ModernMom - Well obviously Canada is the place to be then! :)

Katie - Hi! It's really shocking all of that! Especially if it's down to your boss, because here, if your boss even thought about making a hint that he didn't like that you had "other priorities" (a.k.a kids) he'd be on his way to court with only money for a taxi in his pocket!

Kristi said...

I said MANY times during my pregnancy that I wished I lived in Europe. You are SO lucky! Maternity leave here is 6 weeks for a "normal" birth and 8 for a c-section. After that, if your employer allows if you can take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave, which is called FMLA leave. I took the max I was allowed...and it will never be enough. :) Some employers don't even give you the 6-8 week ALL has to be unpaid. Boo. :(