By Jenn Ford
Up until a year before I had my first child, the company I worked for (20 people) had never employed a woman who had had a baby while employed there. The first woman to have a child while employed there pushed hard to get them to provide short-term disability (STD) coverage. We finally got this going a few months after she became pregnant, so she did not qualify. It was fully employee paid, the company did not contribute. I felt frustrated that they would only pay for 6 weeks whether it was a csection or a vaginal birth. I also felt frustrated that they would not start paying until the 8th business day. This ultimately made the 6 weeks of STD pay equal 4.5 weeks. It paid 60% of gross earnings.
Fortunately my employer continued to pay for my health insurance while I was out. I got 2 weeks of paid maternity leave and took a few weeks of vacation time which I had saved for years. Ultimately I think I ended up getting paid for about 8 weeks and taking about 4 of the 12-13 weeks I took off with each kid unpaid.
The first time around I had a really tough time. I tried to make the numbers work so I wouldn’t have to go back to work before I was ready. I agonized about this. The second time around I was ready to go back around 12 weeks. I could have taken a few more weeks of unpaid leave, but the anticipation of going back wasn’t nearly as bad as with my first child.
While my maternity leave experience was better than those who receive no paid time off after birth, it would have help immensely if I had received a higher percentage of my wages and had more weeks of paid time off.
Homepage image credit to Gabi Menashe