Author Topic: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.  (Read 5069 times)

startingsmall

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Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« on: January 27, 2015, 11:01:17 AM »
In some ways, I guess I'm glad I found out about this "issue" now instead of being blindsided later... just trying to decide what to do with the info and what my next steps should be.

I currently work for a small business (ie. no FMLA or other such protections in place) and have been in this job for approximately 1.5 years.  When initially hired, I was up front with my employer that my husband & I would be wanting to add to our family in the next year or two.  The business owner assured me that this a very family-friendly business and that he would be very flexible when it came time to negotiate maternity leave.  There was nothing regarding maternity leave in the employee manual and my contract stated that after 4 weeks of absence I would be terminated, but the boss assured me that we'd incorporate leave into my second-year contract (and I understood not allowing maternity leave in my first year, so this wasn't a problem).  Second year contract renewal also included nothing about maternity leave, but I again didn't push it because I knew I wouldn't need it this year anyway (had some medical issues, which have since been worked out).  Recently, however,  our employee manual was modified to state that anyone going out on unpaid medical leave (ie. maternity) is giving up their job and will only be rehired if it suits the needs of the company.  When he made this change, I was told that it was "mainly intended for our support staff" and doesn't "REALLY" apply to me.  So that made me a bit uncomfortable, but here we are.

A few weeks ago, I submitted a vacation request for a week in August.  This is a trip that my dad is planning and paying for, which will involve a lot of extended family and therefore has to be planned far in advance -  hence the early request.  Boss told me that the request was approved.... but then, a few days later, we had a conversation that went sorta like this (while we were both sitting in the office, writing up medical records).

Boss:  "Wifey and I (she co-owns the business) were talking about your vacation last night.... and it really SHOULDN'T be a problem, but there are a couple of things.  Number one, we'll need you to cover Labor Day weekend if you're taking that week off."
Me: "No problem."
Boss:  "Also.... obviously, you can only take that vacation if you AREN'T super-pregnant."
Me:  [Internally: "WTF?!"]  "Okay?  What do you mean by super-pregnant?  I mean, obviously I won't go running off to the beach if I'm due to deliver a baby in a matter of weeks...."
Boss:  "Well, yeah. I know you probably wouldn't, but some try to take advantage.  And you have to think of how it looks... if you take vacation and expect other people to cover for you, and then just a few weeks or months later you're going out on six weeks of maternity leave...."
Me:  "Okay, I get that.  So, up to what point WOULD you consider it reasonable to take a vacation?  Because I understand where you're coming from, but I just need some sort of guidelines.  I get that one month before maternity leave isn't okay.... how about 2 months? 3 months?  Because I can tell you that I wouldn't travel at 36 weeks pregnant, but 2-3 months before my due date doesn't sound unreasonable to me."
Boss:  "I can't give you guidelines, it's just common sense.  If you go to the beach for a week, you can't expect us to be okay with you being gone another six weeks just because you had a kid.  At some point, you just have to decide what's more important to you - a beach trip, or having a job to come back to at the end of six weeks."

OKAY.  So, several issues here.
- Sounds like the whole "negotiable" leave thing is probably not negotiable at all, given his frequent, emphatic stating of six weeks.  I can deal with that, but I'm not happy about it.
- While I realize that it is fully legal for him to not take me back after maternity leave, even if it is for something silly like taking a vacation during pregnancy, it just seems really really crappy and sketchy of him. 
- Those sorts of comments scare me, even if I don't tale the vacation.  What if I have a C-section and need 8 weeks?  What if I have to go on bedrest? 

Otherwise, my boss has been a relatively reasonable guy and I mostly enjoy working here.   (There have been some other mild issues, like deducting a vacation day for a day that the clinic was closed, but nothing significant.)  I'm just not sure what to do with this info. 
- I really want to take this vacation, because it's a reunion for extended family - most of whom have not met my 2.5 year old daughter.  Those family trips are always a ton of fun, my dad rented an amazing beachfront house, and I just really want to go.  It won't cost us anything but gas (4 hour drive).
- I'm 36 years old and not getting any younger - if we want a second kiddo, we need to start trying soon. If we wait until August to try and we can't get pregnant, I'll always kick myself and wonder if that six months would have made a difference.  (I had been waiting for some followup on a medical scare and just had tests come back clear, so that's what we've been waiting for.) 
- The biggest concern:  even I skip the beach trip, put off trying for kiddo #2, or we take a while to get pregnant, I'm STILL not sure that I'll have a job to come back to after maternity leave based on my boss's comments.... so if I'm going to end up job-hunting anyway, why not live a little?

Changing jobs at this point wouldn't give much benefit because, as I said, it's not uncommon for employers in my profession to not be very accommodating of pregnancy.   Most employers wouldn't make the sort of comments that my boss made, but there's always the chance that I could change jobs and end up somewhere even worse.... or that my boss just misspoke on a bad day and will be more flexible than I'm expecting.

I don't know.  My thoughts are jumbled because I'm annoyed and frustrated, so I'm hoping for a little bit of rational advice and perspective from the MMM community.  My husband and my normally-very-financially-conservative-dad are both in the "sounds like you might get canned after a kiddo anyway, so just live your life and see what happens" camp, and I'm having a hard time finding a good reason to disagree with them.  Help, please :)   

caliq

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2015, 11:10:44 AM »
I don't know.  My thoughts are jumbled because I'm annoyed and frustrated, so I'm hoping for a little bit of rational advice and perspective from the MMM community.  My husband and my normally-very-financially-conservative-dad are both in the "sounds like you might get canned after a kiddo anyway, so just live your life and see what happens" camp, and I'm having a hard time finding a good reason to disagree with them.  Help, please :)   

I can't find a reason to disagree with that either.  Don't sacrifice your family (visit or new baby) because your boss is kind of a jerk with weird ideas about pregnancy.  It's also interesting that you've been super open and up front with them about your plans and they've said one thing to your face while changing your employment contract/handbook behind your back.  They're verbally insisting it doesn't apply to you but I highly doubt they'd put that in writing.

Can you guys live on just your husband's income?  Even if it derailed your savings goals for awhile, that would make the decision a lot easier.  You could take your vacation, regardless of pregnancy status, and then take your 6 weeks and see what happens.  If they fire you, oh well -- you don't NEED that income to live the next six months or whatever happy and healthy with a happy and healthy new baby.  Then when you're ready you can go back to that job if they still haven't replaced you, or find a new one. 

Plus wouldn't getting fired for having a baby allow you to collect unemployment?  I don't know much about the rules surrounding this, but it sounds like something that would make you eligible. 

GizmoTX

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2015, 11:20:29 AM »
How easily did you get pregnant the first time? Have you & your husband had a recent evaluation of your reproductive health? If not, I'd do this now no matter what. It determines how quickly you start, & if there are issues, the beach in August happens or doesn't happen according to what you need to do to get pregnant.

I am not defending your employer, but you should understand that a really small business cannot afford to be without employees for long indeterminate lengths of time, so your employer is scared that he could be vulnerable. It does not appear to me that he was trying to run you off.

Cpa Cat

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2015, 11:21:31 AM »
1. No matter what happens, I seriously doubt that your employer intends to give you PAID maternity leave. He is just pretending to be gracious enough to hold your job for 6 weeks. So whether or not he decides to fire you, you're still going to end up with at least 6 weeks of unpaid leave.

2. Whether or not you take your vacation, you have no guarantee in place that he will honor his maternity leave "promise." His promise seems to revolve around whether or not the pregnancy is convenient for him (and guess what - it might never be convenient).

My advice to you is that you book your vacation and have lots of unprotected sex. Starting today.

If he fires you when you have your baby, then take a shot at an unemployment claim. When you have recovered from having your baby, start looking for a new job (depending on your state law, if you're on unemployment, you might have to start looking for a job pretty early on).

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2015, 11:22:42 AM »
Sounds like a jerk boss. I wouldn't put up with that. But if it is your only job option, you have to play by his rules I guess.

startingsmall

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #5 on: January 27, 2015, 11:43:16 AM »
With the first kiddo, we got pregnant first month off the pill, had early miscarriage followed by a uterine infection (which took a couple of months to diagnose), then got pregnant again the month after taking antibiotics. Who knows if we'll have that sort of luck again, though!
 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 01:06:47 PM by startingsmall »

GizmoTX

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2015, 11:50:53 AM »
Start taking prenatal vitamins & get checked out by your doctors. Save as much as possible. Don't worry about the job -- you don't need the stress.

mama

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2015, 11:54:23 AM »
My advice to you is that you book your vacation and have lots of unprotected sex. Starting today.

If he fires you when you have your baby, then take a shot at an unemployment claim. When you have recovered from having your baby, start looking for a new job (depending on your state law, if you're on unemployment, you might have to start looking for a job pretty early on).

+1

ADK_Junkie

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2015, 12:12:23 PM »
Start polishing your resume.  For most of us lucky enough to be born in the US, I think having a child (when you want one) is much more important than your job. 

So, move forward with getting pregnant... time is not on your side. 
Go on that family vacation in August.
Keep working on proving that you are indispensable at work.  (Again, get your resume up to snuff and start putting out some feelers... my wife tried to line up a new job for when she returned from maternity leave... didn't work out perfectly, but it did eventually).

And of course, try to slash your expenses so that you and your family can endure the worst of the possible situations.... good luck!

startingsmall

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2015, 12:14:39 PM »
Unfortunately, we can't live off just his income.  I bring in 75% of our family income (he's in the ministry).  Even so, a one-year period of unemployment for me would really only deplete our 'stache by about 15% if we scaled back expenses to the minimum.  Not ideal, but not a huge life-shattering amount either.  And really, the chances of it taking me an entire YEAR to find a job?  Slim to none.  It may only be part-time work, but I'm confident that I could find work in less than a year.  Since I'm a worst-case-scenario sort of person, though, knowing that a full year is only a 15% dent in the 'stache is a huge reassurance :)

I've been on prenatals for the last month, increased our savings rate after this conversation with the boss, and my last visit with my OB-GYN ended with an "I better see you pregnant next time you come in!!" from her.  Visiting with a reproductive specialist really isn't an issue for us because we're in the if-it-doesn't-happen-naturally-then-we'll-start-the-adoption-process camp... yes, it would potentially give us info on what to expect, but I can't justify the testing when it wouldn't change our course of action.  (We're not at all interested in IVF or things of that nature.)

Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.  It really helps to see other ways of looking at this!

Spondulix

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2015, 12:32:04 PM »
Are you in the US? That actually sounds like pregnancy discrimination.

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-preg.cfm

dbunny

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2015, 12:58:13 PM »
I would suggest researching your state's laws and federal laws (assuming US), and know your rights. Employers are required to give you a certain amount of maternity leave based on the size of the company. If you absolutely need the job and are worried about finding another, contact a lawyer and see what your options are. A consultation with a lawyer will probably be cheaper than the lost wages.

It is also illegal for them to discriminate based on your family planning. If you think they are doing that to you, think about filing a discrimination claim against them.

It sounds like this is a small business, and often the owners of small businesses don't know the laws (I know that a lot do, but in my experience, there are more that don't). They may be trying to get out of paying for something that they are required to pay.

startingsmall

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2015, 01:18:21 PM »
I've done my research. Unfortunately,  my state's only requirement is that pregnancy be treated like any other disability by small business owners.  As long as he can say that he'd do the same for anyone needing leave, it is 100% legal.  (I'm in a rural, red state with minimal protections for employees.)

Cookie78

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2015, 01:24:18 PM »
I think you seem to be in a very good place to start trying to get pregnant and go on the vacation. Even your worst case scenario is not very bad, and like you've said, even if you skip the vacation there is no guarantee that they will keep you on after the leave.

I'd start looking around to see what other job opportunities are out there, get pregnant, go on the vacation, and take as much leave as you want.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2015, 02:12:03 PM »
2. Whether or not you take your vacation, you have no guarantee in place that he will honor his maternity leave "promise." His promise seems to revolve around whether or not the pregnancy is convenient for him (and guess what - it might never be convenient).


I agree with this. Since you are not protected by FMLA, the only way you will have your job at the end of your maternity leave is if your boss decides not to be a jerk.  He sounds pretty wishy washy, so I wouldn't count on him.

Take the vacation, care for your baby, and hope for the best when it comes to returning to work.  In the meantime, do you best to find other employment options.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #15 on: January 27, 2015, 02:13:53 PM »
Are you in the US? That actually sounds like pregnancy discrimination.

http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-preg.cfm

Sadly it isn't.  It would only be if she lost the job because she was pregnant.  Only employeese protected by FMLA are guaranteed any sort of leave after having a baby. Small businesses don't have to do FMLA leave.  So she would have to be able to use her sick leave as she would for any other condition, but that's it.

dbunny

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #16 on: January 27, 2015, 05:04:00 PM »
One thing to take away from this is that you really shouldn't discuss family planning with your boss until it is necessary (when you are already pregnant). It sounds like you were upfront with him, and it's great that you are being honest, but remember that it can bring bias into a hiring situation and bias for promotions. It's illegal to do this, but it's really hard to prove. I know you can't take that back, but if you have to get a new job, it's always best not to mention family plans because 1) you can get discriminated against and 2) those plans might not actually happen. 

startingsmall

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2015, 06:43:48 PM »
One thing to take away from this is that you really shouldn't discuss family planning with your boss until it is necessary (when you are already pregnant). It sounds like you were upfront with him, and it's great that you are being honest, but remember that it can bring bias into a hiring situation and bias for promotions. It's illegal to do this, but it's really hard to prove. I know you can't take that back, but if you have to get a new job, it's always best not to mention family plans because 1) you can get discriminated against and 2) those plans might not actually happen.

Yeah, definitely a lesson learned.  It was important to me to get a feel for how family-friendly they'd be, because I knew we'd want another child within the next 2-3 years and I was leaving a corporate job that actually DID have to provide 12 weeks of FMLA leave.  I knew that a small business wouldn't come with the same legal protections as a larger corporation, but I was hoping that being up front with my intentions would result in them not hiring me if they weren't the type of employer who was 'okay' with pregnancy, maternity leave, etc.  Looks like I may have been wrong. 

I'm still holding out hope that he was just having a bad day and none of this will really be a problem, but I don't feel comfortable bringing the issue up again for further discussion so I guess I'll just wait and be surprised.  I don't think my boss is a bad person, and I really do see where he's coming from.... At the same time, we're in a profession where it's pretty easy to find relief professionals to fill in for vacations, etc, so it's not like he has to stay down an employee for the entire duration of my leave. 
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 06:49:49 PM by startingsmall »

citrine

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Re: Dilemma re: work, pregnancy, and a vacation.
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2015, 07:02:07 PM »
I think you need to get pregnant, go on vacation, and have a wonderful time off bonding with the new baby!  The heck with the job and your boss....how important are they going to be when you are 80 years old and looking back at your life?  You have the savings so there is absolutely no need to worry about anything :)