Question on Maternity leave

This is part GQ and part IMHO. My apologies in advance. :slight_smile:

Here’s my situation:

My wife is 5 months pregnant. Currently, she is working full time at a company she REALLY likes alot. She was hoping that when everything was said and done, she might be able to return in from her 3 month maternity leave to a part-time position, since neither of us relishes the idea of leaving a newborn in daycare, and we would be able to make arrangements on the few days she worked that we would both be happy with.

Unfortunately, the boss finally broached the subject today. The possibility of a part-time position is not going to be an option apparently- no hard feelings; the company is being honest and up front. Great, right?

However, her boss wants her to let her know by the end of July whether or not she plans on returning from maternity leave.

My very strong feeling on this is for her to tell the boss “yes”, and just ride out maternity leave.

My questions:

  1. (the GQ) If my wife were to tell her boss that she has no plans of returning when maternity leave is up, could they still legally let her go early, which would strip her of her short term maternity leave pay?

  2. (the IMHO) Any Dopers with direct experience in this issue, from either the employee or management side?

Feel free to let me know what you think we should do: keep it secret or let it be known?
Thanks in advance,

P.S. My wife isn’t due til November.

I wouldn’t tell my employer I wasn’t returning full-time, simply because at 5 months, I don’t think I could know what I would want to do five or six months away. During my first pregnancy, I though I would take off at least six months, if not longer (My job had up to 4 years (unpaid) child-care leave). I probably even thought that for the first week or two after giving birth. I didn’t think it anymore after the first month, and ended up going back full-time after three. You don’t really know what could happen by November ( or December or January) Those arrangements you thought you could make for a couple of days a week may be satisfactory five days a week, And it works the other way too. Your wife could plan to return after a few weeks, and then change her mind.

About the pay- I know they can’t fire you for being pregnant, but it seems to me that if your last day of work is November 1st, and you definitely aren’t coming back, there’s an argument to be made that you aren’t on leave, you’ve resigned. (not saying they’d win, just that they could take that position)

I work in HR and deal with disabilities/FMLA leave. Your wifes intentions regarding her return to work shouldn’t make a difference as to the payment of disability benefits. For example, I’ll still pay disability benefits to an employee who is approved for benefits by our disability TPA even if that employee has said they don’t plan to return to work after their leave. I don’t recall off the top of my head if the FMLA regs address this issue specifically. As you mentioned there’s always the chance that your wife’s employer might be a jerk and decide to terminate the disability benefits early if your wife advises she plans not to return to work. So, I think her best bet would be to tell the boss that she plans to return to work.

First of all, congratulations and good health.

I am currently in a very similar situations. There’s more to loose than just the disability pay. You might have your health insurance through her work. If you don’t, and have it through your work, the option of getting it through her job if something happens to your job, is still worth something. Cobra can be expensive.

Something, God forbid, could happen to you that prevents you from working. In such a case, she might have to return to work and put the baby in day care. Do you have life insurance and disability insurance?

What we decided to do, in your situation, was to tell the employer that my wife is “not likely to come back, but has not yet made up her mind, and wants to keep her options open.”

If you say this, and your employer says he must know, you should say that he should plan on you not coming back, as that is the most likely outcome, but that he should be prepared for the posibility that you will deside come back, as per the Family Medical Leave Act.

If he doesn’t like it, well – tough, that’s the law of the land.

With that said, I’m going to hijack this thread a little, and ask another FMLA question, as the people reading this thread are likely to know the answer.

When my wife was 6 months pregnant, with a thank-God normal pregnancy, her doctor placed standard medical restrictions on her. She cannot lift objects weighing more than 25 pounds, cannot stand for more than 1 hour at a time, etc.

She is a cook and her job requires lifing and standing. She informed her employer and asked for modified work responsibilities or for disability leave. Her employer told her that modifying her work was impractical, and put her on disability leave at 6 months, even though their standard policy is to put normal pregnancies on disability only at full term.

She’s been on leave for 3 weeks now, and was just notified that the disability was not approved (as per standard policy).

So – what are her rights, as per the ADA, FMLA, the CFRA (California)?

I hope that’s not too much of a thread hijack. These are issues that will probably be of interest to the OP as well, so I feel somewhat justified.

Thought I’d throw this back out there for the morning crew.

MHand has some good questions, too.

Thanks for the responses so far.

If she has a contract or an employement agreement she should read it before she makes the call.

My contract says that they will pay for my health insurance while I am on maternity leave but that if I don’t come back from leave I must repay it.

She should make sure that the maternity leave pay isn’t only for people who plan to come back.

I’m just a regular employee, but based on experience, I’d say your wife should NOT imply to her company that she does not plan to return to work. As Ave Minerva said, you never know if the boss or the company in general is going to turn out to be a jerk. The maternity benefit is something she has worked for and deserves. Your main concern should be protecting the benefits of your wife and family, not concern for “being nice” to the employer. That’s just how life is.

I don’t know what the rules may or may not be re: having to return to work to qualify for benefits, but I did personally know one person who returned to work for one day after her leave. I don’t know the rest of the story, why she did it, etc. It was quite a few years ago, so maybe the rules have changed.

Keep yer yap shut! They don’t need to know. They have to fill the spot anyway if you’re gone for 3 months. They could turn out to be real assholes and you’d be left out in the cold.

Thanks all, especially EchoKitty, who’s succinct statement echos my own impulse exactly.

Yap shut, head down. :slight_smile:

Make that “whose”.

Smoke, keeping your mouth shut is fine and probably the best thing to do. But, she really does need to read her contract/policy manual so she knows what will happen (if anything) if she chooses not to go back to work.

At my office they continue to pay your health insurance while you are on maternity leave. If you don’t return you owe them the money. Another place I worked at if you didn’t come back from maternity leave they assumed your last day of employment to be the last day you worked.

Maternity leave pay might only apply to people who actually come back. She could have to repay it if she doesn’t return to work. I don’t know if that is the case but she had better find out for sure before she takes and spends the money.

The way around that is to come back to work for a token period of time (e.g. one day). You’re right, it should be checked out.

Your wife’s boss wants to know if she is going to return after her 3-month paid vacation. I suggest that you have her respond to this request.

Her boss runs a business and is being VERY GENEROUS giving your wife pay while she is absent fromt work. I think common curtesy and decency requires you and your wife to answer his question. Is she going to return to work after the three month leave of absence? I don’t understand the part-time work demands, assuming that she worked full-time before the leave. Anyway, the boss’s questions are valid… will she return to work after 3 months away, or not?

ratatoskK Token period of time might not even work. I have to come back for a full year. If I leave sometime during the course of the next year the amount I owe is prorated.

The rules are probably different everywhere.

I can’t imagine not knowing for sure before I made any decisions.

Didn’t mean to seemingly ignore your advice, In Conceivable - it is sound, and I will certainly look into any employment contract she may have. Thank you. :slight_smile:
Zuma: 1. We ARE going to respond to this request- that was the main point of the thread- I wanted to know the ramifications of telling the truth vs. just having a “change of heart” later on.

  1. I don’t know what is so unclear about the part-time work preference upon returning- she’ll have a newborn baby after, whereas she does not have one now. It is simply our preference NOT to put a small infant in daycare. The cost benefit of it is questionable anyways- daycare would cost, conservatively, half of her take home pay per week anyways. This means that she’d be making less AND putting our baby in daycare. Working part time, she could make the equivalent of half her current pay, AND the baby wouldn’t have to go to daycare at all, due to other arrangements we have.

  2. While I agree that her employer is being generous in their attitude (remember, I said she really likes her job AND that we have no hard feelings that they are unable to accomodate a part time arrangement), and we have no desire to screw anyone, the important point here is that my wife HAS PAID voluntarily into a short term disability/maternity leave insurance plan. So even if the employer offsets some of the cost of a group plan (which, to be honest, I don’t know for sure if they are footing some of the bill), this maternity leave money is something my wife has cominf to her. As in, it’s her policy, and her entitlement.

zuma, maternity leave is not a “three month paid vacation.” I understand your point and it’s a good one from an ethical standpoint (working with your employer who has extended a costly benefit to employees), but you are dead wrong about what maternity leave is, both from the employers standpoint and from the standpoint of the new parent “on vacation” from work.

In fact, remembering what my 8 weeks were like (I got 8 weeks instead of 6 because of additional surgery), it’s all I can do not to use a rolleyes smiley here.