I work for a company that provides six weeks paid maternity leave as well as the Family Leave Medical Act (FMLA). With my first son I used those options as well as some of my vacation days so I was able to stay home with him for 10 weeks (all paid). At the time, I took for granted the options my company provided as it was not the first thing on my mind! However, when I had my second son a few years later, I opted to go back after just the six weeks of Maternity Leave, assuming I’d be anxious to get back to work. When the six weeks were almost up and my son was not even nine pounds, I realized I wasn’t ready to leave him and return to work. I just couldn’t bring myself to drop my tiny newborn off at daycare yet. I anxiously called my boss and told him I wasn’t ready to come back yet, knowing full well the paperwork for my return date had been officially filed and signed off on, my job coverage was ending, and there was a chance I would have to return on that day or risk my job. To my huge relief, my boss assured me I had to do what was right for me and my family; that was the most important thing. He explained the options to me: I could use FMLA and paid Absence With Pay (AWP) to extend my Leave. He would work with HR and update all the paperwork; I needed to spend time with my baby.
I believe my boss realized that if I did come back as planned, I would be effectively useless, as my mind would be elsewhere. It was actually in the company’s best interest to allow me to take the additional time off and come back when I was ready and was able to give my job the focus and attention it required and deserved. A healthy work/life balance (including paid leave) benefits both the employee and employer. The peace of mind it provided me was priceless.
By Jessica, Middletown, CT