How much time off does your employer give for maternity leave? Is the leave paid or unpaid?
If you don't know the answer to these questions, don't worry, most women don't. According to Bustle, it was found that 80% of women do not know what their maternity leave policy is. Even more, in a recent survey from Fairygodboss, it was found that nearly three-quarters of women are “very or extremely uncomfortable" asking about maternity leave policies during the interview process.
Speaking from experience, most people are so eager to get a job that they forget to ask about the important things like the company's plan on professional development, whether tuition reimbursement is given, and if the company offers paid maternity leave. Last spring, I did a group project on maternity leave with a few peers. One of my group members was a new dad and was experiencing paternity leave issues with his job, so he suggested that we research paid leave in the U.S. for our project.
During my research, I found that in the U.S., the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) allows employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off a year in the event of a birth, adoption, or the arrival of a foster child. I also discovered that the U.S. is one of the few advanced and developed countries on Earth that does not guarantee paid leave for mothers or fathers.
The sad, but honest truth about all of this is that most women are clueless when it comes to maternity leave. In my business class, we polled everyone to see how many women knew what their company's maternity leave policy was. Out of 50 ladies, only seven people raised their hand. Just 7! The majority of the remaining women assumed that maternity leave was apart of the benefits package.
When I first started job hunting, I didn't focus on finding an employer with paid maternity leave–mostly since I wasn't planning on having babies any time soon (and honestly, I think I just assumed that paid maternity leave was automatically included). While I was on the job search, I did what most young graduates do: I looked for that good ole' 9-5 with benefits and good pay. Little did I know that the employer that I signed with did not have any type of paid maternity leave! I guess it's good that I wasn't planning on popping out any babies any time soon!
Even though I am not looking to get pregnant in the near future, I realize the importance of having paid maternity leave. Often times, parents that work at companies with unpaid leave do not take much time off because they cannot afford it. This is unfortunate because the first few months with the newborn is very crucial for the father, mother, and baby.
Too often, we as women do not think about “small" things like maternity leave benefits with our company and whether or not it is exists. However, I think it is always important to be informed instead of lost in the world. Although you may not be planning on having a baby soon, you never know what may happen. It wouldn't be the best experience for you to realize at the moment of fertilization that once your baby arrives, there isn't allocated paid time off.
Maternity leave is very important, and an online women community site, Fairygodboss, feels the same. Fairygodboss recently launched their Maternity Leave Resource Center, a searchable database of maternity leave policies of several companies. This online center also allows women to learn about and compare the various maternity policies of potential employers, as well as, companies themselves.
Georgene Huang and her co-founder, Romy Newman, say that the resource center's mission is “to bring transparency to the dialogue between [female] employees and employers so that we can support positive changes to the workplace and unleash the potential of working women everywhere."
Currently, the Maternity Leave Resource Center is the only tool out that produces such quality information about maternity leave. If you look online, you will see that very few companies disclose maternity benefits publicly. As a result, Fairygodboss receives its information based on anonymous tips and reviews submitted by female employees. So far, they've received 5,000 anonymous tips and 3,300 member reviews about a few thousand companies, says Huang.
Locating the information on the site is easy and free. Just click on the Maternity Leave Resources icon at the top of the page, and you can search by the company name or industry. Currently, Fairygodboss has approximately 550 companies listed. If you know your company's maternity leave policy, you can submit an anonymous tip on their site by clicking on add your voice. Why hold the information to yourself when you can help others out?
Since it is not legal for companies to have paid maternity leave, several do not. Some companies that do offer amazing paid maternity leave are:
Netflix: Offers unlimited paid leave for up to 1 year
Twitter: 20 weeks of paid leave
Google: 22 weeks of paid leave
Facebook: Up to 4 months of paid leave, along with $4,000 in baby cash
Ernst & Young: 39 weeks of paid leave
What is your company's take on paid maternity leave? I recommend that you find out if you don't know now! Share what you find with us, and even better, share it on Fairygodboss.