Monday, January 10, 2011

Taking Control of Your Maternity Leave

By: Lauren Wallenstein, Human Resources Consultant

It's natural to understand only about 50% of what your Human Resources advocate tells you. At least, that's what my husband says. Maternity leave laws in California are extremely generous, but also confusing. It seems that the laws are created in a vacuum without regard to how they will overlap or dovetail with existing laws and this leads to confusion over how they should be implemented. And then you have to figure out how your company's policies work into the equation on top of that. To top it off, most people wait until their baby is born and they are massively sleep-deprived to explore these issues! Alas, there is a better way.

I recently met with a client who was on her eighth week of maternity leave. It was her understanding that she was only entitled to 12 total weeks of leave. Her company outsources their HR so she could only speak with someone over the phone who didn't understand the intricacies of the leave laws herself. As a result, she was provided with a huge amount of information but had no means to apply it to her particular situation. Because having a baby is such an individual matter in terms of circumstance and timing, there is no one way to figure out how long you can be out of work. Not to mention how much of that time will be paid. After combing through the details of her delivery, post-partum experience, company benefits and leave policies, I determined that she was entitled to at least one—and maybe two—more months of leave time than she had anticipated. You can imagine the delight on her face with this news! It's not that companies deliberately mislead employees, but let's face it: You are an asset, and they want you back at work.

Come learn how to apply the leave laws to your situation. Leaving money and/or precious time with your newborn on the table is a terrible waste, especially when it is avoidable. I will make what can be a rather dry topic informative, interesting, and beneficial to you and your family. We will also cover nursing in the workplace and whether or not you decide to return to work, how to "milk" every last ounce of available benefit from the company and the state.

So much of the childbirth experience is an unknown universe. Being prepared and informed about your rights will make you feel more in control.

Lauren Wallenstein is part of our Sizzling Hot Topic Lecture Series

Sizzling Hot Topic »See "Maximize Your Maternity Leave"

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