Months ago I began to worry about our maternity leave and what we were going to do after Baby B was born. Mama A wasn't too worried and thought we'd have at least four months. I wanted six. It wasn't until we investigated further that we realized you have to have a masters degree in calculus to figure out accumulated vacation time combined short-term disability combined with health care benefit payments not covered beyond month three combined with not having job security beyond month four.
We're fortunate to have full benefits when many folks are losing them, but the restrictions about maternity leave and benefits are mind-bending. We're also a couple who needs a dual income in order to raise a child, and when it came to decide how long Amy would work until maternity leave, the above stipulations pretty much sealed the deal for us. Work until the end of August and then start leave to maximize the time off with baby. I plan on being at home the first two weeks for a ba-cation and then working 50/50 between the main office and home. (Hopefully Baby B ain't comin' early.)
According to an article I read in The Christian Science Monitor online titled Maternity leave: Expectant moms wait 'til the last minute:
In France, expectant mothers receive six weeks of maternity leave before the birth and 10 weeks after. They are required to take at least two weeks before and six after. In Finland, women receive 17.5 weeks of maternity leave. They can begin as early as eight weeks before their due date or as late as two weeks before the expected date. Other European countries offer similar policies.
And the guys at DadLabs went to Sweden to check out what's available to dads for paternity leave. Would you take 80% of your salary for 60 days of paternity leave?
In the U.S. – The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave during pregnancy or after the birth of a child. This applies to expectant fathers as well as mothers. The law, however, excludes companies with fewer than 50 employees.
And isn't helpful when families can't afford to lose income for any extended period of time in the first place.
The CS Monitor article also states:
Call it the American way of maternity. Eighty percent of pregnant women who work remained on the job until one month or less before their child's birth, according to newly released Census data for 2003. In 1965 that figure was 35 percent.
Most women work until close to their due date for two reasons: They need the income and they want to use their maternity leave after the baby arrives.
That's the reality and we'll be fine, but man, paying higher taxes to subsidize more leave and child care for both parents? Call me crazy but I'm on board for that.