Author Topic: My work's parental leave policy and what to do  (Read 2014 times)

jeromedawg

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My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« on: December 08, 2016, 03:19:35 PM »
Hey all,

So we're expecting our second in Feb 2017 and I'm trying to think through how we're going to do things at home. I'm WFH full-time which is a huge plus already but with a newborn and 1.5yr old, it'll still be rough I think. My employer has a parental leave policy where the primary caregiver of a newborn is allowed up to 16 weeks of fully paid time and job protection that adds 4 weeks on top of FMLA (I'm in CA so it would be 55% Paid Family Leave + 45% paid by my work).
If you're not the primary caregiver you're allowed up to 4 weeks of fully paid time and can use those 4 weeks within a 6mo period (but they have to be used consecutively). I can take more time accordingly but at partial pay (for an additional 2 weeks via PFL) and up to 6 more weeks of unpaid leave (or supplemented w/ PTO) which is protected by FMLA.

The definition of "primary caregiver" is pretty loose but it's basically you giving your word that you'll be the one 'primarily' caring for the newborn during the period of time the benefit allows.

I was thinking that if I file as the primary caregiver, it would help out my wife a lot. Especially because we don't have family really close or want to put our 1.5 yr old in daycare or with a nanny and incur added expenses. The potential issue here is the strain it would put on my coworkers. From March-June, I think it would get pretty busy for our group as there are some high-vis things going on in the org. I did express these concerns with my manager and he seemed to passively indicate that taking 16 weeks off would definitely be hard for the team... the other thing about the policy is that they don't let you take incremental time, so if I'm the primary caregiver, the clock starts ticking from day one until 16 weeks later. If I return to work before that, I forfeit the remaining time.

Even if I go 8-12 weeks and forfeit 8 to 4 weeks that seems like it would still be viable but I still don't know what impacts that would leave on the group. We're a relatively small team where I have one true counterpart and a couple others who can step up but would be pulled from other resources. The work isn't the most engaging or stressful work, so the other part of me thinks it would probably be fine. But knowing this I'd be gone during a generally busier time of year still concerns me a little, and I think this is also what concerns my manager.

Any suggestions on what I should do? Just stick with the 4 weeks of leave and take those whenever it's the most "convenient" for my group? I don't want to underestimate how difficult it can and will be with a new addition where we already have a young toddler to deal and very little extra help. Like I mentioned, since I'm at home, it's a nice benefit where I can help out with little things here and there. But once the days come of sleepless nights, I think it's going to be very rough trying to WFH. I'm also wondering if my boss would unofficially allow for 'flex time' where I can just work during whatever hours work best for me, etc. Already, all of my team is 3 hours ahead on the East Coast, and I go from 8am-5pm so it's not like there's pressing need to be present exactly at the same time all the time. I didn't propose that but subtly asked a question of if there are other options... he said we would talk about it more.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 03:25:54 PM by jplee3 »

AZDude

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2016, 03:34:13 PM »
Assuming your wife is a SAHM, then I would take the 4 weeks of fully paid time plus the two weeks of PFL. That puts baby at 6 weeks, which is about when things start to calm down and return to sort of normal.

You do not lose anything financially, other than partial pay for one paycheck(shouldnt be an issue for a mustachian). You are gone from the office a total of 6 weeks, which is about the normal in the US for a newborn baby. Its your right, so do not feel bad about the affect on your co-workers or company. Just remember the next time one of them is gone for an extended time that you need to help pick up some slack in their absence.


jeromedawg

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2016, 03:48:19 PM »
Assuming your wife is a SAHM, then I would take the 4 weeks of fully paid time plus the two weeks of PFL. That puts baby at 6 weeks, which is about when things start to calm down and return to sort of normal.

You do not lose anything financially, other than partial pay for one paycheck(shouldnt be an issue for a mustachian). You are gone from the office a total of 6 weeks, which is about the normal in the US for a newborn baby. Its your right, so do not feel bad about the affect on your co-workers or company. Just remember the next time one of them is gone for an extended time that you need to help pick up some slack in their absence.

Yep, she's SAHM. I wonder though, if you're saying I should take the 4 weeks + 2 partial pay PFL, if I might as well sign up as primary caregiver for the 16 weeks and then just take 6 weeks (since it's fully covered pay). Then just return to work and forfeit the rest.

mxt0133

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2016, 03:51:05 PM »
I took unpaid leave for my two youngest and enjoyed my time with my older kids while my wife was taking care of the new baby.  As long as you communicate to your manager ahead of time and they have ample time to prepare it shouldn't be a problem for your team.  My suggestion would be to take full advantage of any paternity leave your company offers.

What gets a bit tricky is the whole 'primary care giver' stipulation.  If your wife will be staying home taking care of the baby then no you are not the 'primary care giver' for the new baby.  You might be for your 1.5 year old but not the new baby.

In your situation I would take the 4 weeks off, then the 2 weeks of PFL, and then use up some vacation time to take 2 days off a week for the next 2-3 weeks.  It will give your wife time to adjust to the new baby.  Get a routine going while you slowly go back to work allowing her to get a handle on taking care of two kids. 

Enjoy the time with your oldest, they are so much fun at that age.  Good luck with the new addition to your family.

AZDude

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 03:52:32 PM »
If you have a stay at home wife, it might cause trouble for you if you affirm on a legal document that you are the "primary caregiver". Not to mention that is unethical.

Catbert

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2016, 04:48:16 PM »
Yep, I agree with the others.  Since you have a SAHM it's hard to ethically answer that you're the primary caregiver of the infant.  Take the time you're allowed as the non-primary caregiver.  Personally I'd take it right after the birth rather than give co-workers a "vote" in the timing. 

Pretending you're the primary caregiver won't fool your boss or co-workers who will likely view it as a dick move.

jeromedawg

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Re: My work's parental leave policy and what to do
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2016, 06:28:28 PM »
Thanks all! Yea, I wasn't clear on the whole "primary caregiver" thing but I guess that settles it. In the back of my mind, I was thinking "well what if I do everything for the newborn *except* breastfeed [obviously] - would that count as me being a 'primary caregiver'?" But it doesn't sound like that would work out very well, realistically. I read an internal article about another employee at the company who had twins and his wife was working but didn't get maternity benefits so had to go back to work earlier but I think that's more the situation where it would make sense: if my wife were still working and didn't have the time off, then I could stay at home with both kids (*gah*) and be considered the primary caregiver.

Not so much in this case since she's at home... now, if she had some major disability or post-partum (which wouldn't be known for sure ahead time... but perhaps if has had it before and shows tendencies... I dunno), that might make for a valid argument for me to be primary caregiver. Either way, they require filling out a certificate of care or something of that nature to have it down that you're the primary caregiver. My wife thinks she may have had minor post-partum with our son, so now that I think about it, it's a little scary what things might look like if she does in fact have it AND has the newborn + toddler running wild. To clarify: I'm not trying to dupe my work into thinking I'm a primary caregiver when I may not be just so I can get the 16 weeks - I want to do what's right by my family *first* so am looking at all options. I just know that my wife really struggled the first 4-6 months especially with allergies my son had to put up with (tons of unknowns). The article I referenced above, though not the exact situation, is similar in that it was the father who took the primary caregiver role. I'm sure there are 'legit' reasons for doing this and that's what I'm looking at.

« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 06:35:47 PM by jplee3 »