Maternity and Paternity Leave
Taking the time to familiarize yourself with your employer’s policy is important and will leave you with one less thing to worry about during pregnancy. Furthermore, finding out about maternity leave will make it easier for you to make financial decisions in the future.
When inquiring about your company’s policy, be sure to ask about pay during your leave, whether or not you can factor in spare sick, personal, or holiday days, and what the general timeframe is for your company’s maternity leave. You may also qualify for benefits from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take 12 workweeks off for the birth and care of a newborn in the U.S.[1.U.S. Department of Labor. (2015). Wage and Hour Division: Family and Medical Leave Act. Retrieved November 1, 2015, from http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/] Assessing your current financial status while keeping in mind your baby-friendly budget will aid you in deciding how much time you’ll be capable of taking off without pay, if any.
Once you’re expecting, you may also want to consider career options for you and your partner. For some families, it makes financial sense for one parent to stay home and raise the baby instead of spending money on childcare costs, but for others, it’s a necessity for both parents to stay employed. If that’s the case for you, but you or your partner would prefer to spend more time with your baby, you may want to consider asking around at your company to find out whether work-from-home or flextime options are available.
Fathers whose spouses are TTC may also want to consider checking in with their employers about parental leave. While many women take 12 weeks after their babies are born before returning to work, 81% of new fathers return to work after just two weeks.[2.Tepper, T. (2015, August 7). 7 Ways for New Dads to Man Up on Paternity Leave. Time. Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://time.com/money/3987629/paternity-leave-microsoft-Netflix/]
Because the U.S. does not require employers to provide paid parental leave, it’s a good idea for U.S. individuals who are TTC to look into these policies ahead of time to avoid any surprises later on.[3.Kim, S. (2015, May 6). US is Only Industrialized Nation Without Paid Maternity Leave. ABC News. Retrieved November 1, 2015, from http://abcnews.go.com/Business/us-industrialized-nation-paid-maternity-leave/story?id=30852419] Policies in most other countries typically offer a significant portion of pay for a certain period of time – in the UK, for example, parental leave can extend to a period of 280 days with 90% pay for six weeks and in Russia mothers receive full payment for 140 days.[4.Hall, K. & Spurlock, C. (2013, February 4). Paid Parental Leave: U.S. vs The World. Huffington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/maternity-leave-paid-parental-leave-_n_2617284.html.] Looking into options now will allow you to make adjustments to your budget ahead of time, if needed.