Monday, January 26, 2009

To-Do List: Maternity Leave

One of the things that has been incredibly overwhelming for me throughout our preparations for Baby G.'s arrival is thinking about maternity leave and childcare. I spent Sunday on the sofa trying to kick a cold, and when I woke up this morning still not feeling back to my usual self, I decided to get a sub and take a sick day. I have been able to use the sick day to park on the sofa and make some calls.

Here are the positives: 

1.) Austin Independent School District will provide me with 4 weeks of full-paid leave and then 2 weeks of leave at about 65% of my normal pay rate. This should take me through mid- to late April, depending on when Baby G. decides to make her grand debut. 

2.) Because I work for a larger agency, I am protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, meaning that I can take up to 12 weeks after my paid leave off unpaid and be guaranteed to have my job waiting upon my return. Because of summer vacation, should I choose to take the entire remainder of the school year off, this means 5-6 weeks unpaid. Were I to work for a smaller company, they would not be required to offer me this benefit.

3.) Robin's mom has graciously offered to come down for the last week of the school year, meaning that it is very possible for me to go back to work the last one or two weeks of the school year, earning a bit more to ease the financial strain of taking May unpaid. We are fortunate that my due date falls in March, meaning that really, we only have to work out what to do with this month of May, and then I will be able to take care of Baby G. through the summer and delay putting her in daycare until September. 

Here are the negatives:

1.) Daycare is crazy expensive and ridiculously hard to get your child into. 

2.) I couldn't help but do a bit of research into parental leave laws and requirements in other developed countries, which led to some frustration. As I said, I am fortunate to work for a district that offers me some paid leave and to have job protection through the FMLA. Not all parents have this. If I feel this stressed about money and leave with these benefits, I can't imagine what it must feel like for parents that have no access to them.

In general, though, I now know what I have to do to get all of this in order. I have the paperwork, need to notify my principal, and all should be good!

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