Negotiate for a Better Maternity Leave

IMaternity-Leave-Proposalt’s no secret that maternity leave benefits in the US are lacking.  You know it’s bad when our own President fronts us out.  To quote him directly, “the United States is the only developed country in the world without paid maternity leave.”  But, we can’t let that get us down because bringing a child into this world is one of, it not THE most rewarding and important thing we can do to in our lifetimes.

The good news is that even when you think the deck is stacked against you and you’re concerned that you won’t get a fair shake when you ask for maternity leave, there are experts out there who have successfully helped women to not only get a fair maternity leave but also a great maternity leave.  Today I would like to introduce you to an expert in this area, Pat Katepoo.

Pat has been a work options advisor since 1993 and her website Work Options has been online since 1997. Thousands of busy professionals have found answers and relief through her services.  Pat says, “Women aren’t socialized to negotiate and so they are less inclined than men to ask for what they need or want. And research shows that often women fail to see their options or even think to ask for them.   So maybe you don’t know what you don’t know.”  Pat can help you see your options and ask for them.

Whether you choose her do-it-yourself guides or her personal services by phone you get practical help negotiating various work options to make your life calmer and easier. Options such as job flexibility, a fabulous pay raise, and more maternity leave and other time off.

Please take a few moments right now to visit Pat at WorkOptions by clicking any of the links in this post.  I really think she’s the best in this subject area and definitely the most experienced.  I always keep a link to her site on the side of my blog posts because I think her services are so valuable to working women.  I’m an affiliate for Pat’s tools and resources so each purchase you make drops a few coins in the bucket to fund The Maternity Leave Coach, so “thank you” in advance.

 

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.

Read moreLike Learning to Ride a Bike

The Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Julie Steinberg wrote a nice article that encapsulated the four rules you need to remember about your maternity leave.  I’ve linked to the article at the end of this post.  I wanted to expand a bit on her rules and ask you all if you’d add any more rules to the list.

1.  Start the conversation early

I was glad to see that the women Julie referred to in the article recommended letting managers know sooner than later.   The 12 week mark seems to be a good time to let people know.  You’d want to share the news sooner if you are having an especially tough time with morning sickness or you are high risk and may need accommodations during your pregnancy.  

Read moreThe Four Rules of Maternity Leave

Doctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

“Will my boss let me off to go to my doctor’s appointments?” is a common question that I’ve heard from women newly pregnant who are actively involved in the workforce. If you consider that most pregnant women have between ten and 15 prenatal visits over the course of nine months, it’s understandable that this would be a concern.

To answer the question of whether or not your employer will let you off of work, I’ll answer with the “spirit” and then the” letter” of the law. From a “spirit” perspective, most employers will be understanding and as long as you aren’t pulling a fast one with your appointments, they will be accommodating. They will allow for the time off either from sick time allocation through FMLA or if you prefer, from your vacation allotment.

Read moreDoctor Visits and Work – Planning for Pregnancy Care

What Did Your Boss Really Say? True Stories of Telling Them You’re Pregnant

Tell Boss You're PregnantAs I hear from working women about their trials and tribulations of pregnancy and maternity leave, one of the hot topics is always “when/how to tell your boss you’re pregnant”.  There is so much fear and concern about how the manager will respond.

I have a theory that most of the fear about telling the boss comes from myths and legends, but I could be wrong (I hope I am).  I actually think that in most cases the manager is willing to work with you as best they know how.  That’s the deal, most don’t know how so the whole thing gets awkward and clunky.

So, here’s where you come in… I need your stories.  What REALLY happened when you told your boss you were pregnant?  Comment here with your story and please share this with the other working women you know who would have a story to share.

Thanks!  Let’s get those comments rolling in.

Flexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

I just read a great post on NYTimes.com about how one mom achieves more balance (and efficiency) by starting work later and leaving for home earlier.  You may say, “Wow, where do I find that fantasy job?” or “Does she also commute to work on a unicorn?”  As unrealistic as it may seem, there are moms (and dads) out there who actually work a reduced work schedule.  It doesn’t happen for everyone but I do have to say that it will never happen for you if you don’t ask.

My son was four when I finally worked up the courage to let someone know that I’d like to reduce my hours to spend more time at home.  The proposition of him starting kindergarten and not being to pick him up from school and help with homework was really getting me down.  Luckily for me, on my new manager’s first day she asked about my career goals.  I figured it was now or never so I blurted out, “I’d like to reduce my hours.”  It seemed so bold and gutsy and it played in slow motion over and over in my head after I walked out of her office.  Had I just committed career suicide?

Read moreFlexible Work Arrangement – if you never ask, it will never happen

Poor Performer Because I’m Pregnant? What Your Boss Really Thinks

I’ve talked to a few women who fear that their pregnancy or new mother status will reflect poorly on their manager’s and coworkers’ views of their performance.  In general I see it coming up as a concern when a women perceives that people are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or is a new mom.

Although there are thousands of scenarios, this difference of treatment can usually be traced back to a few root causes:

  • Most frequently I see that managers and co-workers are concerned about offending the new mom and they get weirded out and act strange.  Sometime they walk on eggshells and keep their distance so they don’t say the wrong thing.  In particular I’ve seen that men who work with pregnant women can be unsure of what they can say.  To the new mom, this can come off as being excluded, shut out or even shunned.  I recommend that if the new mom feels comfortable, that she just break the ice and  help everyone she works with ease into this transition.  You’ll get it all out in the open and know for sure where you stand.
  • The managers and co-workers are jerks and really are treating her differently because she’s pregnant or a new mom.  Unfortunately this does happen but I wouldn’t jump to it as the first conclusion.   If you are comfortable, speak with your manager about the situation.  If that’s not an option, speaking confidentially with HR can help sort things out.
  • Sometimes the mother’s performance really has dipped because of the physical and mental demands on her.  Most managers are understanding of this temporary situation.  Initiate the conversation and you may find that there are opportunities to adjust your workload or schedule to help during this time.
  • And finally, there are some mothers who have checked out and unfortunately used the excuse of  “I’m pregnant” or “I’m a new mom” to let their performance slide.  These few moms may have ruined it for the rest of us and you want to be sure that you aren’t inadvertently becoming one of  “those employees”.  Ask a trusted co-worker for feedback on your performance.  Meet frequently with your manager for status updates and to get a clear understanding of their expectations and whether or not you’re meeting them.
You may find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re being treated differently.  Think through your situation, talk it over with non-biased third parties and then determine what you want to do about it.
If you’ve been in this spot and have some words of wisdom, I’d love to hear from you.

 

The Letter of the Law

My hope is that for every pregnant woman out in the workplace there are caring, supportive managers and co-workers who are going to help make their transition to motherhood a beautiful one.  I’m an optimist and I generally think that most people have the best intentions and don’t plan on alienating others.   That said, I would recommend that expectant mothers keep in mind that sometimes other employees feel awkward that they are “with child” and some of the offensive behavior you experience may really be general weirdness and not true harassment.

Read moreThe Letter of the Law