I told my work that I was pregnant this week. I told my boss, and the director and associate directors of our department, and a few close coworkers. It's a little scary to have announced it to the world. The blog feels like the safest public space, because if something happened during the pregnancy I would almost definitely talk about it here even if I hadn't yet announced the pregnancy, and then Facebook is like a step more removed, and work is the final step. Like if something happened with the baby I don't really want to have to deal with people at work knowing about it. So it's a little weird to have the whole thing be out in the open.
But, you know, at a certain point you have to just assume that everything will be fine and take the plunge and know that if something terrible did happen this late in the game, people will be supportive and that's just how it's going to be.
I could have waited a little longer to tell work, especially since I work remotely, but I wanted to get my maternity leave situation figured out. My company has a decent maternity leave policy, but let me clarify right up front that I mean "decent by US standards, and would be regarded with horror by anyone from a country with a REAL maternity leave requirement."
Basically, it works like this: I get either 12 or 16 weeks of FMLA leave. It's unclear which because DC mandates 16 for anyone who lives or works there, which I don't, but my company is based there, so they generally offer 16 weeks to all their employees just out of the goodness of their heart, but this hasn't been finalized yet (one of the things I'm still trying to work out with the benefits department). But it looks like it will most likely be 16 weeks. Of those, six are paid at 60% through our company-sponsored short-term disability insurance. The other 10 weeks are unpaid.
I can also supplement my maternity leave with vacation and sick time. Since we've been planning for a long time to try to get pregnant this year, I've been saving up my vacation hours. By the end of the year I should have about four and a half weeks of vacation accrued, and another week or so of sick time. However, company policy is that you can roll over only two weeks of vacation time from year to year unless you apply for an exemption. In most cases the exemption will be granted to roll over 50% of your additional time. My understanding is that in general they will allow you to roll over the full excess amount if it is for maternity leave purposes. However, this is decided on a case-by-case basis and is not a guarantee. This is the other main point I'm trying to work out with the benefits office right now.
There are also more minor questions I have--like for example I've been told that short-term disability covers six weeks, but the blurb about it on our Intranet says 90 days, which I'm almost positive is wrong unless something has changed, but that would be a very good thing to know for sure. And, there's an elimination period of one week, during which time I have to use sick leave, but I don't know if the elimination period counts as one of the six weeks or if first I use a week of sick time and then I get six weeks of disability pay.
In fact, I know that the language on the Intranet has changed, because I copied it and emailed it to myself a few months ago, and looking at the email, I see that it had much more specific language about the maternity benefit aspect of the insurance, and now it just has general language about the overall insurance and says that maternity is included, so I don't know what the deal is, but something is definitely up and I need to find out what.
It's all very complicated, basically, which is why I wanted to start working it out early, so I could finalize my plans and get everything approved by my supervisor before the last minute (our benefits office can be very slow, so I wouldn't be surprised if it took a couple months to get all these details hashed out). Supposedly my benefits coordinator person has mailed me a maternity benefits packet that will answer most of my questions. I am very much looking forward to receiving this. But I'm not holding my breath that it will show up any time soon.
However, despite these complications, I am not complaining, because you know what would be a lot less complicated? Straight-up 12 weeks of unpaid leave. And I'm really glad I get more than that. One way or another, once I get all this crap worked out, I should be able to cobble together a full five months off to spend with Piglet, and parts of it will be paid, and I am very happy about that.
Still, it's a little depressing that I'm happy about 5 months of partial pay, when most people in Europe get at least half a year, most even a full year, of partial or full pay. And this usually applies to both mothers and fathers. We're a little behind the curve on this one, for sure.
What about those of you who took maternity leave from your jobs? What was the benefit like? How did it compare to mine?
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