Friday, January 11, 2008
Elena mentioned Charles Wheelan's column about maternity leave in which he opined that maternity leave benefits were not fair to those moms who returned to work because of moms who didn't. Elena stated that she needed those six weeks to know if she was going to return to work. As a working mom who has had three maternity leaves and covered for people on maternity leave, I agree with him. I'd like to see better maternity benefits for women who return to work, but I know the firm for which I work, which had very generous maternity leave benefits for attorneys, scaled them way back because of the number of times they were burned. They went from offering six weeks paid leave to offering one week per year of employment, or per year since the last maternity leave. They still comply with the law requiring twelve weeks unpaid leave, if the mom wants it. I think his idea of deferred compensation or revokeable compensation for maternity leave is a good compromise. I think Elena is right, some women don't know until after they have a baby whether they want to come back to work or what they are willing to give up in order not to do so. However, part of choosing to be a SAHM is choosing to do without the income from your job, so why should an employer have to pay you to take time to decide? If employers knew that women who accepted maternity leave benefits would return, and for more than a month or two, they might be more generous with those of us who stick around.