Kink in exile

Notes from a kinky nomad

Maternity leave

Maternity leave isn’t something I’d given much thought to.  I know there is a debate raging, I know that my Swedish co-workers correct me and say “parental leave benefit” and I know my current benefit is competitive (16 weeks, full pay, regardless of gender of the parent or birth/adoption/guardianship of child).  I didn’t know how parental leave impacts retention of women in the workforce across all incomes and sectors, but I knew that Google increased their benefit in a pitch to retain female employees and it worked.

And then, seemingly overnight, this became a major consideration.  I became a 30 year old woman in a stable relationship with Plans.  Moreover, I became a 30 year old woman in a stable relationship with Plans and the good fortune to be desirable to people who occasionally show up and try to offer me new jobs.  And in looking at these, I discovered that my maternity benefit is very, very competitive.  Others I’ve seen have ranged from 8 weeks at full pay but no ability to take more than 8 weeks to 16 weeks at no pay.

And my first question is “do you people not want to retain female talent?!”  It costs about $10,000 to hire someone in my field when you think about time lost to interviews, money spent perking people up (recruiting), and various other activation costs.  I guess depending on the hire that’s only 1-2 months of paid leave, but I think I just found the leaky pipe everyone has been talking about.

My plan had been to work until it was baby time (in a year or two, relax folks), take my leave, then come back.  If I were in a job with one of these less generous leave policies my plan would be either 1) work until I though “ooh, baby next year” then look for a job with better benefits or 2) work until baby time, exhaust the benefit such as it is, then quit my job and find a new one 6ish months later.

There is a huge, glaring, major assumption in my plan: I am in a high demand, well paid field and I have options.  I assume that if I quit my job I will find a new one 6 months later.  I have enough padding to quit my job for 6 months.

Now imagine the average woman who at this point may or may not be partnered (40.6% of American babies were born out of wedlock in 2013 per the CDC) and whose income is probably in the $40k-$50k range (if she’s lucky).  What the hell does she do?  No, really, daycare is prohibitively expensive, her leave benefit might only allow 6-8 weeks, what does she do?

Parental leave is about so much more than individual families – it becomes a major concern in enabling women to have joint career and family goals. It enables men to take time off to spend with their families beyond a couple of days of PTO, and normalizes work-life balance regardless of gender.  Further it helps level the playing field between rich and poor moms and boosts retention of female employees across the income spectrum.

Written by kinkinexile

February 9, 2015 at 11:49 am

Posted in personal, politics, work

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