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Adopting or Fostering? “Maternity Leave” for You Too

Any time I write about FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) I get a little nervous because for as much benefit and protection that it gives to parents, there are also so many twists and turns that it is easy to misinterpret. So, I’ll start this post off by recommending that you seek counsel and guidance from your company’s HR department and if that gets weird you may have to involve a labor and employment attorney.

Here’s the short answer on “Can I take FMLA leave to adopt or foster a child?” The answer is “yes” however there are some differences if you are not giving birth to the child yourself.

Many supervisors and employees think that FMLA is only there to provide leave for medical conditions (pregnancy being one) however it also applies when an employee (either male or female) has started the process to adopt or foster a child. Be sure to let your manager and HR know well in advance that you are in the process of adopting or fostering a child. If your company is obligated to follow FMLA guidelines you are entitled to leave before the actual placement of a child in your home when the absence is required in order for the adoption to proceed.

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What You Wanted To Know – Doctor Appointments

pregnant-doctorToday when I looked at what search keywords are being used to find The Maternity Leave Coach it was very clear what’s on expectant mother’s minds… taking time off of work for doctor’s appointments. So, you ask and I deliver.  Here are some Q&A that will hopefully answer some burning questions.  AND… while you’re here be sure to check out the new Maternity Leave Prep Kit that will bring everything you need to know about preparing for maternity leave into one handy guide.  $9.99 is a small price to pay for the stress-relief of getting a plan in place.  Look to the right of the page to order your copy today.

Q. Can I use FMLA leave during my pregnancy or only after the birth of my child?

A. Yes. Employees can use FMLA leave during their pregnancy or after the birth of their child. Under the regulations, a mother can use 12 weeks of FMLA leave for the birth of a child, for prenatal care and incapacity related to pregnancy, and for her own serious health condition following the birth of a child. A father can use FMLA leave for the birth of a child and to care for his spouse who is incapacitated (due to pregnancy or child birth).

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Interview: Tom Spiggle – Author of “You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired!”

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Tom Spiggle of Spiggle Law.  I am so excited about his soon to be released book, You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! and I wanted to be sure all my readers could get a sneak peek.  He’s a great guy who has helped many people who have been challenged with balancing work and family.  Although he represents employees in many different matters, Tom is especially interested in helping clients suffering discrimination because they are pregnant or have family-care issues, such as caring for a sick child or an elderly parent.

Read on to hear Tom’s advice for caregivers in the workplace…

Given that you’ve got four kids of your own, I can imagine it is easy for you to relate to the challenges of working parents.  What really sparked your interest in elevating the issues of caregivers in the workplace today?

Before I was a parent I didn’t realize how hard it would be to juggle it all.  Thankfully, my wife and I both had jobs that were sympathetic to family and I still wonder how it is all even possible without a supportive workplace.  In the US our laws that protect caregivers do a poor job of supporting families so what we really have to do work to enforce the few laws that we do have.  It’s all very complicated because there’s not one law that protects caregivers, but a number of laws that apply.  In many cases, because it is so confusing, there are HR departments who really aren’t sure how to apply the laws appropriately.  That’s why I wrote You’re Pregnant You’re Fired to put it all down into one book that covers all the ins and outs of your parental rights in the workplace.

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You’re Pregnant…You’re Fired!

This week the Huffington Post featured “Pregnant? 5 Ways to Protect Yourself From Discrimination at Work”.  Although it pains me that in our day and age we are still in a place where we need to publish a list like this, I am glad that there are folks out there informing women of their rights so they can be prepared.

The post’s author, Tom Spiggle, is also the author of “You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace” which will hit shelves later this spring. He is founder of the Spiggle Law Firm based in Arlington, Va., where he focuses on workplace law specializing in helping clients facing discrimination due to pregnancy or other family-care issues, such as caring for a sick child or elderly parent. This is Spiggle’s first book. To learn more, visit:www.yourepregnantyourefired.com.

Although I  don’t encourage people to be defensive, there are bosses out there who are either uninformed or unwilling to follow the laws when it comes to pregnancy and the workplace.  It is good to know you’ve got protections that you can use if push comes to shove (kind of a pregnancy pun too…sorry!).

Check out Tom’s tips and let us know if you’ve had any experiences with pregnancy discrimination.

 

 


Bump Day is the new Hump Day

All I have to say it “Hump Day” and you see it and hear it.  If not, here’s the link on YouTube to re-sear it in your brain.  Hump Day Commercial

I’m sure you hate me a little bit now for refreshing your memory.

In the traditional Hump Day the camel walks around the office shouting “Hump Day!” but I’m taking over Wednesdays and making them Bump Days!    This Wednesday walk around your office and show off that big ol’ belly with pride!

In the Comments below share how your day went.

Also, if you want to see how the celebs are showing off their bellies, check out this link and watch Celebrity Bump Day.


Who’s Your Daddy and Why is He on Paternity Leave?

I just read a great article at Forbes.com about paternity leave and it’s benefits for babies, dads, AND moms.   I’m just curious… do you work with anyone who’s taken a full paternity leave?  In my experience new dads usually take about a week of vacation and they make sure to tell everyone they’re using vacation days just to be sure everyone knows they’re not milking the system for paternity leave.

Wouldn’t it be cool for a dad to say with pride, “I am taking the full benefit of my paternity leave (or FMLA) because becoming a new dad is awesome and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.”  I would venture to say that most new dads definitely feel that way but there are pressures (real or unspoken) to be at work or available for work 24/7.  Especially if the new dad is anxious about being the provider, anything that might rock the boat at work doesn’t seem like a good idea right around the time you’re adding to your family and have another mouth to feed.

So, the pressure keeps some dads from taking time off for the new baby. Are there stereotypes about what dad will do while he’s at home?  Like this promo photo from the classic 80′s movie “Mr. Mom”  Who wants to be this guy?

Mr. Mom

I’m just guessing that dads out there would rather think they’ll look like this (I guess moms wouldn’t mind either!)

David Beckham with Baby

Personally, nothing is more handsome, manly, responsible, mature and EMPLOYABLE than a man who takes care of his family.

What do you think?


What Happens If You Work for “Neanderthal Inc.”?

I am so excited to share a special guest post from my husband and biggest supporter.  Take a few minutes to hear his perspective on maternity leave.

For starters, I’m really proud of my wife for doing the Maternity Leave Coach blog and helping get useful topics/hints/suggestions out there that working women can use when they are on the verge of experiencing the most amazing event they will ever experience in their life. My wife asked me to chime in on a guest post, so we chatted about what I’ve experienced in my working life.

For starters, I’ve had a knack in my working life for working around and with companies that could also be labeled as “Neanderthal Inc.”  By that I mean that they are typically male dominated and may have a culture that is gruff and quite frankly doesn’t understand women and how to work with them or develop them so they are vital parts of the organization. Fortunately, my wife has mostly worked for large companies that have had fairly progressive policies when it comes to women and typically would go above any federal minimums when it came to maternity leave and benefits like that. So, it’s safe to say we’ve had different experiences over our almost 20+ years working. We were talking about her blog recently (did I mention I’m proud of her?) and why some women might not want to tell their managers they are pregnant or that they might be nervous about their future when there are laws to protect them. Here are some observations I’ve made over the years.

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The Evils of Extended Maternity Leave

I just read an article by Kay Hymowitz on Time.com about how extended maternity leave may put women at a disadvantage in the workplace.  I’m not mad at Ms. Hymowitz because she’s just reporting the facts but I am left with a little bit of a “meh, I could have told you that” reaction. 

Do I wish that an employee – male or female – could take a year off of work without having the negative side effects mentioned in the article?  We’ll yes, it’d be great if I was gone for the next twelve months and my skills didn’t get rusty, my social networks stayed fresh, I’d be able to come back with the same or higher pay and that my longer term career potential wasn’t affected.  But I believe it’s a little unrealistic to think that one or more of those wouldn’t be affected by my choice to exit the workplace for a while.

Let’s flip the script a bit.  Let’s say Joe in the cubicle next to you made a decision to serve in the military.  His time away from work to serve his country is protected by law.  Would you expect him to be sent on required training for a year and then think he’d come right back to work without missing a beat?  Might he have forgotten a bit about the company’s complex accounting system, could the advocates he had previously in the organization moved on without him, could that affect his rate of pay increases for the next few years while he caught up?  It’s highly likely one or more of these things would happen.  Even though that stinks, we’d support him through this transition back to the workplace and respect his service to our country. 

I believe that sustaining the human race through pro-creation is also a noble cause.  And here’s the upside that I think we forget.  Why did I take the time off in the first place?  TO HAVE A BABY!  That trumps a few bucks more an hour, don’t you think? 

I’m afraid that people (ok, specifically business leaders and policymakers) in the U.S. read about extended leaves in other parts of the world and say “See, our twelve week maternity leave policies are better than other countries because we get a woman back to work sooner, therefore improving her chances of getting back on the career track more quickly.”  Uh, ok.  Lame.

So, all that to say, I will still advocate for improvements in maternity leave offerings around the world and I hope you join with me in that work.  Check out my other blog posts that show just how far behind we are in the U.S. in regard to our offer for working mothers-to-be.  Then write a letter or change a diaper.


Maternity Leave Coach is Seeking Guest Bloggers

We’re searching for some fresh and unique content for the Maternity Leave Coach! Go to the “Contact” tab and send in an idea for an article that you would like to publish.  New bloggers and business owners definitely welcome, too.

Guest Blogging Guidelines

Some ideal topics for posts would be:

  • maternity leave and FMLA policies
  • maternity leave and return to work strategies and stories
  • work life balance and flexible work arrangements
  • pregnancy work wardrobe
  • boss and co-worker advice for moms-to-be and new moms

Also, if you’d like to publicize your blog a bit, feel free to send us some brief about yourself and your blog (name, what you blog about, anything interesting you’d like for us to highlight, etc) and we’ll see if we can get a little “email interviewing” going.

Looking forward to hearing from new voices!

Cheree



Like Learning to Ride a Bike

This Labor Day weekend has been stressful.  Not because I had to work while everyone was off sunbathing by the lake but because I was off and decided to tackle a project that I really didn’t want to do.

That project?  Re-teaching my 8 year old son how to ride his bike.   Sounds easy because re-teaching should just take a gentle nudge, an encouraging word or a trip down memory lane to recollect about how he rode his bike last summer.  As a matter of fact, he rode his bike just two weeks ago.  But, two weeks ago he also fell off his bike (in the grass so don’t shed too many tears) and that led to the drama that we have experienced over the holiday. Continue reading