Let’s Talk about Family Leave!

Family leave also called parental or maternity leave is the time one takes off from work for the birth or adoption of a child. Have you taken Family leave? Did you find it fair? Or did you feel cheated? What would you like to see changed if possible? This post is specifically about family leave in the United States and we would love your insight. If you leave feedback, please let us know where you reside within the US or abroad. We’ve just been approached by someone in radio broadcasting to inquire our readers with the following questions for an upcoming segment on maternity leave.

In the future, we plan to also compare maternity leave of the US to countries around the world but for now we are focusing on the US and even more specifically the state of Texas; and the cities of Dallas and Houston! We appreciate any and all feedback!

So let’s talk about Family leave: Do YOU feel like you got a fair deal?

Regarding Family Leave Packages from Work:
1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left? Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like?
2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability?
3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care?
4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off?
5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave?
6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave?
7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program?
8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering?

Again, we appreciate any and all feedback and your time in sharing your voice. And remember please let us know where you reside within the US, or abroad, and to leave comments below for this post, not on facebook, so that the broadcasting agent can view. Thank you!

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10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Family Leave!

  1. 1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left? Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like?

    i had to use my PTO (paid time off) that I had built up, then use STD which didnt kick in for 45days and only paid 60% od my base pay

    2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability?
    i could have taken 12 weeks but didnt have the money for it bc i was on bedrest a week before which i also had to use my vacation time for, so i was back at work at 6 weeks after my csection, and ate the last couple weeks.
    3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care?
    no
    4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off?
    no one got a bonus but it wouldnt have affected it

    5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave?
    no, not according to other countries. and i have to save all my vacation the whole year for it

    6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave? no

    7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program?
    yes. they held my job for me, i signed a bunch of papers

    8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering?
    yes for adoption, not sure the others

  2. I am getting ready to go out on mine in just a few weeks so this is all very fresh! I live in Texas. My leave covered under our short term disability and we’re paid at 100% of our salary for 6 weeks. We are eligible for a total of 12 under FMLA but the remaining 6 would be unpaid. No stipend for daycare and my bonus is impacted, they prorate it for time “worked” essentially paying for 9 of the 12 months earned with no accommodations. After 8 years I’m not sure 6 weeks should be considered fair, it’s embarrassing compared to other countries and US women friendly companies. The policy covers any kind of parenting situation (foster/adoption etc).

  3. Regarding Family Leave Packages from Work:
    1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left? Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like? My maternity leave was covered under short term disability, which I paid a small amount into monthly, the rest was covered by my employer. However, STD only covered six weeks of leave and did not cover 100% of my salary.
    2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability? I was able to take medical leave with STD until my daughter was seven weeks old.
    3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care? No, but my employer offered free subscription for a childcare finding website, along with an option to have an FSA for childcare.
    4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off? We didn’t have performance based bonuses with my employer.
    5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave? No
    6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave? No
    7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program? Yes, they complied well with FMLA.
    8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering? I believe so, but I’m not positive.

    My situation was a little different, so I want to expand on it a bit more. I actually had to take STD and FMLA leave in the middle of my pregnancy. I returned to work in my third trimester, but this time off resulted in me no longer having any FMLA leave left when I had my daughter. I had to take unprotected medical leave and return to work when my daughter was not quite seven weeks old. Thankfully, my job was still there when I got back, but I know many people in my position might not be as lucky. Maternity leave in the US is embarrassing compared to the rest of the developed world. Something absolutely needs to be done to provide protected maternity leave separate from FMLA in addition to providing at least a little bit of mandatory paid maternity leave.

  4. As a federal employee, I got no maternity leave per se, but was able to take 12 weeks off under the Family Medical Leave Act, of which about 5 weeks was accrued sick and vacation leave I’d saved up. We weren’t able to make more than 12 weeks and many female coworkers took only 6 or 8 weeks because they couldn’t afford to be without the paycheck longer than that. I don’t know any male coworkers who took more than 2 weeks off and most took only 1.

    My husband’s employer, on the other hand, gives DADS a month of paid infant care leave (moms get 3 months). Moreover, employees are encouraged to extend their leave by applying accrued sick and vacation time. With both kids, he took off only one or two weeks less than I did, but 100% of his time off was paid.

  5. Regarding Family Leave Packages from Work:
    1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left?

    No, but I had to reimburse my company when I got back.

    Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like?

    I got 6 weeks maternity leave. I had to cover the first week with my own PTO. Short term disability covered tge last 5 weeks at around 60% of my gross pay. I took an extra 4 weeks unpaid for bonding (would have been 6, but I was running out of money)

    2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability?

    See above answer.

    3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care?

    No.

    4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off?

    What is bonus? I hardly see any.

    5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave?

    Nope.

    6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave?

    I don’t know.

    7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program?

    Yes, and they comply.

    8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering?

    Unknown.

  6. I would like to respond to the questions as well. When we were foster parents I was working at an organization that did fall under the FMLA laws. I was given 12 weeks but it was unpaid because I was an hourly employee. This impacted our finances greatly, especially when we took on 2 mouths to feed. Also the time off did not reset year to year according to the organization but was from calendar date to calendar date, so when our son was adopted six months later, I had already taken off a lot of time as a foster parent. It really put a perspective on families who frequently foster and their responsibilities at work.

  7. 1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left? Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like?

    I don’t think so? I don’t have health insurance premiums, and I don’t remember anything special happening with my life insurance premiums. My leave was not covered by short/long term disability insurance. From what I understand, I could have used short term disability insurance had I needed to stop working for an extended period of time prior to my baby’s arrival, but I never did.

    2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability?

    20 weeks total. It breaks down as 8 weeks maternity disability leave + 4 weeks paid parental leave + 8 weeks unpaid parental leave. I did not have to use short/long term disability — it’s a benefit given by my company.

    With my first child, we were living in California, and they have a state paid parental leave program. So that kicked in during the unpaid portion of my company-provided leave. With my last two kids, we were living in Texas, which doesn’t have a state paid parental leave program. I used vacation time to get paid for the unpaid part of my leave.

    3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care?

    Like, for daycare? My company offers discounts at a lot of daycare facilities. I’ve never chosen to take advantage of those discounts. I’ve preferred other child care arrangements, and the relatively small discount wasn’t worth choosing a non-preferred arrangement.

    My company also heavily subsidizes a backup care program, for when your normal caregiver is unavailable (sick nanny, daycare closed, etc.), and I’ve taken advantage of that on numerous occasions.

    4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off?

    Yes. My company gives bonuses as a percentage of your “bonus eligible salary” (BES), which does not include salary earned during maternity disability leave or parental leave. BUT your bonus is supposed to be based solely on the work you did while you were actually working, without taking into account time spent on leave. So if I worked, say, 8 months out of the year and was on leave for the remainder, but my work during those 8 months was on par with a co-worker who did the same quality of work but for 12 months, we are supposed to get the same bonus *percentage.* Of course, he’ll get more money (even if we have the same base salary) because he’ll have 12 months’ worth of BES while I’ll only have 8 months. Which is fair, in my opinion.

    In practice, this is truly how it’s worked for me, in all three of my leaves. I’ve never felt penalized at my year-end review due to taking leave. Other women at my company have said that they did indeed feel penalized.

    5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave?

    Yes. Beyond fair. WAY beyond fair.

    6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave?

    Yes, the “parental leave” I mentioned (4 weeks paid/8 weeks unpaid) is available to dads, and same sex domestic partners of the birthing mother.

    This has a tremendous positive impact on me as a birthing mother. My company is mostly male, so it really levels the playing field when it’s not just women who take time off to care for a new baby.

    7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program?

    Yes, it falls under FMLA. They comply fully with it, and offer their own benefits that go far beyond FMLA.

    8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering?

    I *believe* maternity disability leave applies to all birthing mothers, whether or not they keep the baby — so that would include mothers who place their babies for adoption as well as surrogates.

    I know parental leave applies to all new parents, including adoptive parents.

    I am not sure about foster care.

  8. my 12 weeks of Fmla started a month before I had the baby because I was put on bedrest so I didn’t get the option to use the 12 twelve after the baby was born. Std paid for 6 weeks and then I saved my vacation for two more. I’m part salary and part bonus. I found it interesting that my sales goals were not reduced for the 3 months I was out so I was expected to do 12 months of work in 9 months on top of still being up with a baby at night when I returned to work. During my six weeks of leave I also had to reimburse my company for my monthly health insurance premiums since I was receiving disability income and not salary. I’m in Dallas tx. I worked for a different publicly traded company with each of my two children and the experience was similar at both. Trying to continue to breastfeed after returning to work was difficult and because I’m constantly out visiting clients i pumped in my car, random bathroom stalls and client file rooms.

  9. I am an employee of the city of Dallas. When I had my son, I took off 12 weeks through FMLA. After using my vacation and sick leave, I had 8 weeks unpaid. In my opinion, nothing is more valuable than time to bond with the baby in the first year, especially since I exclusively breastfed him. I wish I could have had more time paid off work. I do feel so lucky my husband and I were able to make it through the unpaid leave time. What would a single mother do?
    Childcare stipend? I wish!
    It makes me sad to hear how far behind the u.s. is when you compare maternity leave in other countries. Our country loves children and we believe strongly in family values. I would like to see our country adopt new standards in line with the rest of the world. I would encourage the city of Dallas to be a leader in this and adopt paid maternity leave.

  10. 1) Did you have to pay premiums of your health/life insurance up front before you left? Or was your maternity leave covered under short/long term disability insurance and who paid for that? What did this look like?

    I did not have to pay insurance premiums up front. My parental leave was covered by the firm and short term disability. The short term disability covered the two weeks prior to my due date and then a portion of the 18 weeks that I took off. The firm covered the balance I believe.

    2) How long did you have off? Was this time off given by your company or did you have to use short/long term disability?

    For my first two parental leaves, the firm gave me 90 days paid and then I took 3 additional months unpaid. For my third parental leave, the firm had changed its policy and gave me 18 weeks paid leave.

    3) Did/do you get stipend for baby care?

    No, but the firm offers emergency child care.

    4) Was your bonus affected by your family leave? Was there accommodations to your bonus scheduled based on your time off?

    My bonus is prorated to adjust for the time out of the office.

    5) Do you feel like you got a fair deal with your family leave?

    Yes, the firm has been very generous with parental leave and flexibility.

    6) Does your company or your spouse’s company offer paid paternity leave?

    Yes (see above). My husband works for the government and does not have paid leave, but may use sick leave.

    7) Does your company fall under the Family Medical Leave Act? How do they comply with it? How do they work around this program?

    Yes and I am not familiar with how the firm complies with the FMLA.

    8) Does your leave include accommodations for adoption (both as a biological mother and adoptive family), surrogacy, foster care, or kinship adoption/fostering?

    The same parental leave policy described above applies to adoptions as well.

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