I knew maternity leave in the United States was bad. As indicated by President Obama’s remarks from June 2014 here and the extensive coverage those remarks received. I knew it was hard on mothers and children, highlighted by this blog post on the Huffington Post from Regan Long, an educator here.
What I didn’t know was that even with an employer who provides short-term disability leave, there isn’t any flexibility because of the carrier policy.
As MetLife explained to me, in the world of maternity leave it’s cut and dry: either you had a C-section or you didn’t. There’s no grey scale for complications from a “normal” delivery. There’s no flexibility if your child has complications.
If like us, you had to return to the hospital less than 24-hours, the clock doesn’t start over. Or even worse, if your child was early and is in the NICU. In fact, you could have to go back to work before you ever brought your child home.
It doesn’t matter if your physician says you can’t drive for several weeks, or indicates for your health and the health of your child you shouldn’t return to work for 12 weeks. Unless you can afford to use up all of your sick and vacation time or have an employer who is willing to give you unpaid time off (FMLA is unpaid by the way), you may have to choose between following your physician’s orders and providing for your family.
Then the complications will start to multiply because using all of your sick and vacation time to recover and care for your child will also mean that once your child enters daycare and is exposed to all the daycare germs, you won’t have any paid time off to care for her. Since you can’t take a sick child to daycare, you’re in a bind again. God forbid you also get sick or get sick from returning to work too soon.
It infuriates me that maternity leave policy providers, like MetLife, can say things such as, “it’s better than no leave!” Or “it’s not up to us, that’s the policy.”
Where’s the compassion in the policy, MetLife? Where’s an employer or policy provider standing up and saying this isn’t right? Where’s caring about the health of employees and their families above a bottom line or policy definition, MetLife?
Like Regan Long said in her piece, “I’m reminded that I should be thankful I have a job.” And like Regan, I too will do whatever it takes to keep my family afloat, even if it means sacrificing my own health. I just wish no mother would have to make that choice.
Don’t even get me started on paternity leave…