Not going to lie, today’s post is a little depressing. Stick with me though, because there is a silver lining :-)
The Family Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, is viewed by many Americans as a blanket insurance policy protecting their job in case of the birth or adoption of a child, serious illness of self of immediate family member, or military service. Up until a few months ago, I was one of those people. Seems legit, right?
Not so much. I am not eligible to have my job protected under FMLA, along with approximately 81% of other new moms. Isn’t that crap? Here is what you actually get under FMLA:
Basic Leave: 12 weeks of unpaid leave because of pregnancy, prenatal care, to care for an immediate family members with a serious health condition, or for an employee’s serious health condition.
Military Leave: 12-26 weeks of leave, depending upon the circumstances.
What They Don’t Tell You: You must first be employed with the same employer for 1 year, and have 1250 paid hours worked in that year. Also, your employer is excluded if they do not have 50 employees within 75 miles, which excludes quite a few businesses. Additionally, a serious health condition has to fall under FMLA’s definition, and must be constantly re-certified in order to keep benefits. You also don’t necessarily get to keep your exact position when you return to work. They have to put you in an “equivalent position” which we all know is not the same. Finally, the mandatory leave is unpaid.
Why I don’t qualify: FMLA is just the minimum that employers have to do under the law. They can choose to give paid leave (rather than unpaid), they can choose to give a longer leave, and they can choose to extend leave privileges if you have been there less than year. However, mine doesn’t. Or they just don’t appreciate me. Either way.
If Baby RB40 comes on October 15, I will have been employed at my current job 10 months and 1 week. Keep in mind, I graduated college December 19th, 2012 and started at my current job January 7th, so it wasn’t like I was slacking :-(. So, I am essentially getting “fired” for having a baby after being employed for 10 months and 1 week.
Nearly every other developed country offers government-mandated paid leave, so for all of the United States’ fanfare about helping everyone out, pregnant women are the group being left out. There is WIC, Welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, and the other billion programs to help, but employers are not (really) required to give leave to pregnant women. How crazy is that?
I am not saying that the United States “should” change FMLA to help pregnant women out. Actually, I am saying the opposite. Government should stay out of business, with the exception of a bit of regulation – and I truly mean just a bit. On the flip side, businesses should appreciate their employees, take into account the time and money it will take to hire and train a new employee, as well as recognize and try to retain a good one. Perhaps if the government got out of business, businesses would be freed up to make life a little easier on an expecting employee. Just sayin’
The Silver Lining
With all of that being said, there is a silver lining to my story. I have been promised my job. Nothing official, of course, but I know that my boss is quite happy with the job I have been doing and does not want to lose me. And, if Human Resources makes an exception for me, they may have to start doing it for all of the housekeepers and servers working at the hotel, too, so I understand their position. I have been told that they will not hire anyone for 12 weeks, and that the only thing they will do as far as posting a vacancy is putting a notice on the bulletin board in the basement of the hotel. They will not be posting the vacancy online. If they keep their word. We shall see….
Still, I am stressed. Anything could happen, and in spite of my employer’s lack of appreciation for me, I really like my job and want it back when I come off of leave. Other than doing a great job and coming back to work as quickly as possible, I cannot think of anything else I can do to secure my job.
Has anyone been in a position like this? What did you do? Is there anything else I can do to keep my position safe?
To see more information in The Family Medical Leave Act, click here.