My doctor said the funniest thing to me the other day. He said if you can afford not to work, you could go ahead and stop working. Luckily, I don’t think he will ever read this but even if he does, I have no problem saying, “are you crazy?” Seriously.
Luckily, I work from home and he approved me to do my job along with my pregnancy complications. However, he got me thinking. I tried to think of veryone I know who could “afford” not to work. I could only come up with one name.
I know some couples where only the husbands work. I guess if you aren’t working already this scenario doesn’t apply. If it was critical for me not to work for the health of my baby, it would be no question. I would have to stop working even though I couldn’t afford it. I guess would I have to get on government assistance since, if I don’t work, I wouldn’t have insurance. This is something I would prefer not to do.
I am on bed rest until the end of December. If I worked on my feet or in an actual office, I guess I would have to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) time. If you aren’t familiar with it, basically if your company has over 50 employees and you are full time, your job is protected while you are gone for up to three months and you can continue using your company’s group health insurance.
I am grateful for FMLA. I have used it three times before. Twice to take care of my mother when she was ill and once for the birth of my first child. I think more people should be aware of their FMLA rights. You can visit the Department of Labor Web site to find out more in at www.dol.gov.
I would also like to give some useful advice from my own personal experience. When you use FMLA leave, you still have to pay for your insurance. Usually your insurance is deducted from your check, but when you don’t have a check coming in you have to pay out of your pocket. If you don’t make the payments, you can lose your insurance.
Also, don’t take advantage of it. You only get 12 weeks of leave in a 12 month period. When my mom got sick, I only used 2 months of my FMLA. I could have stayed out a little longer but it was possible for me to back to work so I did. Six months later, my mom got ill again. I only had 4 weeks left of my FMLA. Remember, just because you can use it doesn’t mean you should. You never know what could happen in the next 12 months.
In my opinion, I think the U.S. maternity leave should be separate from FMLA. I am ill right now due to pregnancy. I could really use three months to stay on bed rest, but even if I took it, as soon as the baby was born, I would have to back to work. Studies have shown that countries with longer periods of maternal leave, children were found to breastfeed for longer and their life expectancy was higher.
Paid maternity leave is very common around the world. Not here in the United States. Not only do we not have a separate maternity leave act, we don’t get paid maternity leave. For example in France, maternity leave is paid 100 percent for 16 weeks.
If we had separate maternity leave and FMLA, I could “afford” not to work. Until then, I am grateful that I am able to work from home and that my condition is not so bad. I wonder what other mothers who are not as lucky do?
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