Every momma deserves time to be with her baby. Plain and simple. There is no job that is so important, that it should be held at a higher priority than spending crucial time bonding with your child. And as a single, twenty-something who has absolutely zero plans of ever having children, I will fight for this, for all the other working parents who do want to have a family.
I work for a large company that boasts “Top Work Place” awards and a great corporate culture, but the biggest thing that is severely lacking is a parental leave policy. Our ‘policy’ only applies to moms who are physically giving birth. It is to use all of your PTO first, then go on short-term disability for the remainder of time that you would like to spend at home. On top of short-term disability, you also need to apply for FMLA (Family & Medical Leave Act) separately to ensure that you will have a job waiting for you when you’re done bringing a freaking baby into this world. When you’re on short-term disability, you are no longer considered a full-time employee, which means that the company will not pay for their portion of certain benefits, like health insurance… you know that thing that is pretty important if you’re going to be spending time in a hospital. You also have to wait until the baby is actually out (and already racking up bills) before you can add them to your insurance plan. Because the first thing everyone wants to do the second they just gave birth is spend time talking to an unenthusiastic insurance representative. Yay.
But what about the spouses who didn’t birth a baby, but still want to be around for the inevitably stressful time that a new addition is being added to the family? Well they’re really out of luck. They have to use their hard earned PTO. Oh, and did I mention that they can’t roll their unused PTO over to the following year? Yeah, they better hope that baby is born in December, and they don’t take any vacation or need a sick day leading up to that point.
And for the other employees who decide to have children through adoption or foster care… you’re basically stuck in the same boat as the partners who didn’t have to physically carry a child. Adoption is an insanely time consuming and expensive process. Even if you go through a domestic adoption from a different state, there are all sorts of laws you have to abide by before you can finally take your baby home. International adoption is a whole other story. Adopting an older child is tricky for a million other reasons, and it is even more important to spend quality time together. So you can go ahead and just kiss your PTO goodbye.
A company this big, that stresses their ‘incredible’ company culture, should really take a step back and consider the lives of their employees outside of the office. We spend a majority of our day in the office. We devote our time, our brain power, and our passion to the success of a company that gives little regard to the “life” portion of work-life balance. So many studies point to the importance of spending quality time with your kiddos, but you also need to take time to think about yourself. Your life is changing dramatically; your family dynamic is going to be completely different. You have a million other things to worry about that are more important than meeting deadlines or coming back to work so that you can have your insurance benefits back.
So why does this rile up a twenty-something who has no intention of having any children? Because I really look up to the ladies I work with. I have role models in my company that I take inspiration from on a daily basis. I admire anyone who is able to work in our fast paced industry, and raising some pretty amazing kids once the work day is done. I respect my mother and her decision to stop working in order to raise my siblings and me, and I respect her decision to go back to work after 20 years as a homemaker. Even though the closest I’ll ever get to motherhood is having my fur baby, I will forever support my incredible coworkers on their journey of parenthood. And as one of the office dogs, Winnie will support you too.