Husband had been pestering me for a few weeks to gather information about my maternity leave. It was one of those chores I had been postponing until we reached viability, but when the perinatologist thought I may have an acreta, he mentioned in passing that I could be taken out of work at 28 weeks in that scenario. I tried to make the argument that since I work right next to a hospital, I would be safer at work than at home, but it was the push I needed to start this research. I started by digging up my employee handbook and turned to the Leave of Absence Policy Summary and found the section on Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).
If an employee is disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or a pregnancy-related medical condition, they are entitled to time off due to pregnancy of up to four (4) months. If the employee meets the eligibility requirements for a Family Care Leave (Family Medical Leave Act and/or California Family Rights Act) before the date leave is requested, their FMLA entitlement will be designated to run concurrently with the Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL).
An Employee may request a Family Care Leave (leave covered under the Family Medical Leave Act and/or California Family Rights Act) if they meet specific reasons. Family Care Leave provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period.
Family Care Leave for Baby Bonding: If the employee has met the eligibility requirements for Family Care Leave, they may request up to 12 weeks of leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to bond with a newborn child. This leave will run concurrently with all other applicable leaves. XYZ will apply FMLA-qualified leave and/or CFRA qualified leave against the employee's leave entitlement under XYZ's leave policies.
I have read this section over and over again and still don't feel that I have any grasp. I understand the words that are used, but they don't seem to hold any meaning. Is this what I sound like when I use medical jargon?
I needed to speak with someone knowledgeable, I went to our company's intranet to look up my Human Resources contact, only there weren't any names listed. "They've been dissolving the HR department" Co-worker informed me. Um, how does a large affiliation dissolve their HR department? Apparently by outsourcing. I sent an inquiry to an administrative staffer and she gave me an address of some private company in Sacramento. "So there is no one at XYZ who can help me understand the policies at XYZ?" I asked. The staffer directed me to speak with the Bean Counter. The Bean Counter, aka the Director of Operations , is an administrator who no one really understands what her job is or what she does all day. I sent her an email informing her of my pregnancy and possible need to start leave early due to complications and I asked who can I speak with regarding my leave. I never heard back from her. At press time, almost four weeks have passed and I still haven't received a response to my inquiry, nor any acknowledgement of impending leave due to pregnancy. I don't expect her to exhibit any response on a human or compassionate level; she's a bean counter. However, as I am one of the most productive clinicians in our group, I would imagine she would be concerned about the loss of my productivity. She hasn't mentioned anything to our clinic director nor my Lead Physician. I have fears that she'll deny any request for a leave, as I didn't indicate on my 2015 Expense Request that I anticipated taking any FMLA time.
I decided to contact the Primary Care doctor who had a baby last year, to ask her if she had any contacts she could share with me. Apparently there is someone at the outsourced management company in Sacramento who is assigned to assist XYZ employees. I set up a time to call this person. "So what type of disability is this for?" she asked. I informed her it was for pregnancy and added that I might need to leave early due to complications. No words of 'Congratulations!' or 'I'm sorry to hear that you may be delivered early...' They made sure they dismantled the human aspect of Human Resources. She explained that I would need to submit a request for leave thirty days before my intended date, they need to verify my eligibility through my benefits, then they will submit a certificate for my doctor to sign. Once that is complete, I receive my leave packet which will explain how to apply for disability through the state of California and through my Short Term Disability. If I need to go out suddenly, I just submit the request as soon as I can. She seemed really annoyed to be answering my questions and I could tell she was desperate to end the phone call as soon as she could.
So, I really had no answers to the burning questions, which are how much leave can I take and how much will be paid? They say when you work for yourself, you have the toughest boss. The second toughest boss is your husband when you earn more than him. Husband has expressed concerns about how we will manage our finances without my salary. While not saying anything outright, I think he would like me to work as long as possible and return when my paid leave runs out. Myrtle asked how much time I would be taking for my leave. "Don't you get 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 8 weeks for a C/section?" I wanted to reply, oh yeah, I've only waited three years, went through two miscarriages and multiple failed transfers to finally have a baby and I'm only going to spend 6-8 weeks at home with him or her... Yet I know for many new mothers that time frame is their reality. A measly 6-8 weeks is inadequate for anyone.
Actually, I was reluctant to discuss my leave with Myrtle because even thought I don't know the exact details, I know mine will be better than hers. I'm very fortunate that California is one of four states that offers some paid family leave. Myrtle made an arrangement with her boss to work until the day before her due date as long as she could work from home during the last month of her pregnancy. She cashed in her unused sick days and vacation time, but a few weeks into her leave, the pay cheques stopped. At the same time, her husband who had been unhappy with his job for a long time, decided to quit without lining up any other prospects. Talk about feeling pressure to go back to work. I wouldn't have been as forgiving if he were my spouse. Myrtle took three months off, only because three months was the minimum entrance age for little Myrtle's day care; otherwise, she would have gone back sooner.
Fortunately, my cousin works in human resources and was finally able to answer my questions. Admittedly, she did have to draw me a diagram. According to her, I'm eligible for 8-10 weeks as paid disability post delivery and 6 weeks paid family leave. However, paid leave is 60% of my salary up to a defined maximum. I know I shouldn't complain at all, especially as I just wrote about Myrtle's unpaid leave. Still, the reality is that families are being financially penalised for having a baby. Yet, I know what it's like to be on the other side. I had to go to work the day after severing my finger as Co-worker was treating herself to a spa day while on Baby Bonding leave. (Yes, I am still bitter about that). Why should I be taking home the same amount of pay as my colleagues who have their work load increased due to my absence? I don't have any solutions.
According to my cousin, I could receive 14 -16 weeks partially paid leave. I also have four weeks of PTO that I can use. On my most recent scan, my placenta is still covering the cervix. It would need to move at least 4 cm to allow for a vaginal delivery. The good news is that the perinatologist did not see anything that looked concerning for an acreta. So, at this point in time, my C/section would be scheduled between 36 and 37 weeks. We are planning to go back east in October as Husband is scheduled to umpire several hockey matches and his parents will travel from England to meet their grandchild during that time. I will go back to work upon our return, as Jate starts day care in November. I can stretch this duration of time with my paid leave if I work until the day before my C/section.
Once again, I know I shouldn't be complaining at all, but I was hoping to be able to take a little time off before the birth. For so many years, I've listened to patients beg me to start their leave early. One of my favourites was a 28 week pregnant woman who wanted to go out on disability for 'baby brain'. Sorry, that's not an actual diagnosis. More recently, I saw a patient for her first visit and she asked to be taken out of work as she described how her boss is a jerk and her co-workers are mean. Unfortunately, you have to deal with jerk bosses and mean co-workers when you're not pregnant. Pregnancy is not an escape clause. To my dismay, she played Mommy against Daddy and got her primary care provider to grant her disability. So, it makes me a little resentful that I have to work right up until my delivery date, but I'd rather be able to work than to be on restrictions due to bleeding, preterm labour, or pre-eclampsia. I just have to make the most out of my remaining weekends.