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Is “maternity leave” justified?
Posted: 04 September 2013 09:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Lois - 04 September 2013 08:09 AM
mid atlantic - 04 September 2013 05:10 AM

I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

For decades, workers, especially men, have been able to take extended unpaid leaves from their jobs while the job is held for them. This includes military leave and medical leave, such as for heart attacks and heart surgery, other kinds of surgery and to recover from accidents (more likely among men). But when it was suggested that WOMEN get similar kinds of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for family members, suddenly people were up in arms about how it will ruin industry and society in general.

There is little cost to allowing unpaid leaves. The specific job doesn’t even have to be held open, only that a similar job be offered upon the worker’s return. 

Women have historically stepped up to the plate to do the work men have taken leaves from.  Men in the military have been the most notorious example.  During WWII, women by the thousands did men’s jobs and did them well, and at far less pay! But when the men returned from service, they got their jobs back and the women were summarily laid off. There were few complaints about this turn of events at the time. This was seen as a necessity at the time but somehow too few people think unpaid leave for pregnancy is a similar necessity. To extend a sentiment about abortion, “If men could get pregnant maternity leave would be a sacrament.”

But when it was decided to give women unpaid leave for pregnancy, suddenly it is seen as too much of a burden to industry and society.

Somehow there is nothing like giving women their due to get people riled up over something that has been going on for decades for men with no serious opposition.

Lois

Lois when it comes to men and women, most health issues are treated the same. If you are ill or disabled you get the same amount of time off regardless of gender.

The difference with pregnancy is that the amount of time a woman takes off has less to do with her need to recover from the medical condition and more to do with her desire to spend time with her new child so its not entirely unreasonable for society to take a different approach to pregnancy than we do to a heart attack. In addition, pregnancy unlike a heart attack or illness is a choice and I think that affects peoples attitudes rightly or wrongly, but I think it does justify the need for a different sort of discussion.

Your comment about the cost of leave to a company needs to be qualified. It really depends a lot on the size of the company and the type of employee. The temporary loss of a member of the maintenance staff of a large company probably would have very little effect on the company. The job is not a key position, it doesn’t require a lot of training, and that employee’s efforts contribute only a small amount to the overall output of a huge company. On the other hand the absence of a highly trained key employee of a small company could be devastating or at the very least would have a marked effect on the workings and productivity of the company. Its not easy to just hire a temp to fill in for someone who has specialized skills,knowledge or relationships especially if she is the only one in the company with those skills or knowledge.

I think its also important to clarify something here. we are all talking about maternity leave as though its a monolithic national policy when in fact its far from that. There is paid and unpaid leave. Unpaid leave is governed by the FMLA and protects workers who need extended time off for any medical or family need. It does not require employers to pay the employee but does require them to keep the employee’s job open during the time period covered by the FMLA. It does not apply to small companies because legislators realized that the burden on small companies might be onerous if they had to comply with the same regulations.

Paid leave can come in two varieties. State disability insurance affords all women 4 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 6 for a c-section. This is not employer controlled. Every employed individual is entitled to this benefit in the U.S.. In addition to disability coverage, each company may have its own maternity benefits which may be more generous than what the state disability program offers in which case the sky is the limit in some cases and there may be no provision at all in others.

Obviously unpaid leave is less controversial when we are discussing extended maternity leave. Paid leave which is provided by the government and which we all pay for must be acceptable to society as a whole. I think it would be unfair to ask everyone to pay more so mothers could have 6 months off at full pay for example when we are asking the public to pay for it but we seem to all agree that 4-6 weeks is reasonable so this is what has been allowed. Private companies can of course offer more if they choose and that is entirely up to them.

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Posted: 05 September 2013 05:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Lois - 04 September 2013 08:09 AM
mid atlantic - 04 September 2013 05:10 AM

I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

For decades, workers, especially men, have been able to take extended unpaid leaves from their jobs while the job is held for them. This includes military leave and medical leave, such as for heart attacks and heart surgery, other kinds of surgery and to recover from accidents (more likely among men). But when it was suggested that WOMEN get similar kinds of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for family members, suddenly people were up in arms about how it will ruin industry and society in general.

There is little cost to allowing unpaid leaves. The specific job doesn’t even have to be held open, only that a similar job be offered upon the worker’s return. 

Women have historically stepped up to the plate to do the work men have taken leaves from.  Men in the military have been the most notorious example.  During WWII, women by the thousands did men’s jobs and did them well, and at far less pay! But when the men returned from service, they got their jobs back and the women were summarily laid off. There were few complaints about this turn of events at the time. This was seen as a necessity at the time but somehow too few people think unpaid leave for pregnancy is a similar necessity. To extend a sentiment about abortion, “If men could get pregnant maternity leave would be a sacrament.”

But when it was decided to give women unpaid leave for pregnancy, suddenly it is seen as too much of a burden to industry and society.

Somehow there is nothing like giving women their due to get people riled up over something that has been going on for decades for men with no serious opposition.

Lois

I didn’t say anything about what your posting. surprised

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Posted: 05 September 2013 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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macgyver - 04 September 2013 09:39 AM
Lois - 04 September 2013 08:09 AM
mid atlantic - 04 September 2013 05:10 AM

I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

For decades, workers, especially men, have been able to take extended unpaid leaves from their jobs while the job is held for them. This includes military leave and medical leave, such as for heart attacks and heart surgery, other kinds of surgery and to recover from accidents (more likely among men). But when it was suggested that WOMEN get similar kinds of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for family members, suddenly people were up in arms about how it will ruin industry and society in general.

There is little cost to allowing unpaid leaves. The specific job doesn’t even have to be held open, only that a similar job be offered upon the worker’s return. 

Women have historically stepped up to the plate to do the work men have taken leaves from.  Men in the military have been the most notorious example.  During WWII, women by the thousands did men’s jobs and did them well, and at far less pay! But when the men returned from service, they got their jobs back and the women were summarily laid off. There were few complaints about this turn of events at the time. This was seen as a necessity at the time but somehow too few people think unpaid leave for pregnancy is a similar necessity. To extend a sentiment about abortion, “If men could get pregnant maternity leave would be a sacrament.”

But when it was decided to give women unpaid leave for pregnancy, suddenly it is seen as too much of a burden to industry and society.

Somehow there is nothing like giving women their due to get people riled up over something that has been going on for decades for men with no serious opposition.

Lois

Lois when it comes to men and women, most health issues are treated the same. If you are ill or disabled you get the same amount of time off regardless of gender.

The difference with pregnancy is that the amount of time a woman takes off has less to do with her need to recover from the medical condition and more to do with her desire to spend time with her new child so its not entirely unreasonable for society to take a different approach to pregnancy than we do to a heart attack. In addition, pregnancy unlike a heart attack or illness is a choice and I think that affects peoples attitudes rightly or wrongly, but I think it does justify the need for a different sort of discussion.

Your comment about the cost of leave to a company needs to be qualified. It really depends a lot on the size of the company and the type of employee. The temporary loss of a member of the maintenance staff of a large company probably would have very little effect on the company. The job is not a key position, it doesn’t require a lot of training, and that employee’s efforts contribute only a small amount to the overall output of a huge company. On the other hand the absence of a highly trained key employee of a small company could be devastating or at the very least would have a marked effect on the workings and productivity of the company. Its not easy to just hire a temp to fill in for someone who has specialized skills,knowledge or relationships especially if she is the only one in the company with those skills or knowledge.

I think its also important to clarify something here. we are all talking about maternity leave as though its a monolithic national policy when in fact its far from that. There is paid and unpaid leave. Unpaid leave is governed by the FMLA and protects workers who need extended time off for any medical or family need. It does not require employers to pay the employee but does require them to keep the employee’s job open during the time period covered by the FMLA. It does not apply to small companies because legislators realized that the burden on small companies might be onerous if they had to comply with the same regulations.

Paid leave can come in two varieties. State disability insurance affords all women 4 weeks for a vaginal delivery and 6 for a c-section. This is not employer controlled. Every employed individual is entitled to this benefit in the U.S.. In addition to disability coverage, each company may have its own maternity benefits which may be more generous than what the state disability program offers in which case the sky is the limit in some cases and there may be no provision at all in others.

Obviously unpaid leave is less controversial when we are discussing extended maternity leave. Paid leave which is provided by the government and which we all pay for must be acceptable to society as a whole. I think it would be unfair to ask everyone to pay more so mothers could have 6 months off at full pay for example when we are asking the public to pay for it but we seem to all agree that 4-6 weeks is reasonable so this is what has been allowed. Private companies can of course offer more if they choose and that is entirely up to them.


Are we talking about paid leave? I wasn’t.  The majority of people don’t get paid leave for anything other than limited sick leave and vacation time. 

Also, you said: “In addition, pregnancy unlike a heart attack or illness is a choice and I think that affects peoples attitudes rightly or wrongly, but I think it does justify the need for a different sort of discussion.”

A different kind of discussion, yes, but as I’m sure you know, many pregnancies are not a choice while many heart attacks and other medical conditions can be seen to be the result of clear choices.  Should we start deciding how much leave a person is entitled to based on their lifestyle choices? Poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise all contribute to the likelihood of a heart attack and other medical conditions just as much as not using birth control (or being unable to afford it or having it fail) contributes to pregnancies.

The point I am making is that producing and raising the next generation should be seen to be a shared effort. It should not be seen to be solely a woman’s responsibility, though that is what has been behind our attitude toward pregnancy and child care in this country. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.

Lois

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Posted: 05 September 2013 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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mid atlantic - 05 September 2013 05:33 AM
Lois - 04 September 2013 08:09 AM
mid atlantic - 04 September 2013 05:10 AM

I agree with maternity leave in general, but I have no idea how long it should last for.

It’s better then new mothers bringing the babies to work, though.

For decades, workers, especially men, have been able to take extended unpaid leaves from their jobs while the job is held for them. This includes military leave and medical leave, such as for heart attacks and heart surgery, other kinds of surgery and to recover from accidents (more likely among men). But when it was suggested that WOMEN get similar kinds of leave for pregnancy and childbirth, and to care for family members, suddenly people were up in arms about how it will ruin industry and society in general.

There is little cost to allowing unpaid leaves. The specific job doesn’t even have to be held open, only that a similar job be offered upon the worker’s return. 

Women have historically stepped up to the plate to do the work men have taken leaves from.  Men in the military have been the most notorious example.  During WWII, women by the thousands did men’s jobs and did them well, and at far less pay! But when the men returned from service, they got their jobs back and the women were summarily laid off. There were few complaints about this turn of events at the time. This was seen as a necessity at the time but somehow too few people think unpaid leave for pregnancy is a similar necessity. To extend a sentiment about abortion, “If men could get pregnant maternity leave would be a sacrament.”

But when it was decided to give women unpaid leave for pregnancy, suddenly it is seen as too much of a burden to industry and society.

Somehow there is nothing like giving women their due to get people riled up over something that has been going on for decades for men with no serious opposition.

Lois

I didn’t say anything about what your posting. surprised

I’m sorry if I semed to be responding to the wrong post.

Lois

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Posted: 05 September 2013 03:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Lois - 05 September 2013 08:17 AM


Are we talking about paid leave? I wasn’t.  The majority of people don’t get paid leave for anything other than limited sick leave and vacation time. 

Also, you said: “In addition, pregnancy unlike a heart attack or illness is a choice and I think that affects peoples attitudes rightly or wrongly, but I think it does justify the need for a different sort of discussion.”

A different kind of discussion, yes, but as I’m sure you know, many pregnancies are not a choice while many heart attacks and other medical conditions can be seen to be the result of clear choices.  Should we start deciding how much leave a person is entitled to based on their lifestyle choices? Poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise all contribute to the likelihood of a heart attack and other medical conditions just as much as not using birth control (or being unable to afford it or having it fail) contributes to pregnancies.

The point I am making is that producing and raising the next generation should be seen to be a shared effort. It should not be seen to be solely a woman’s responsibility, though that is what has been behind our attitude toward pregnancy and child care in this country. Like it or not, we’re all in this together.

Lois

You make some good points and I agree with you to an extent but to say the two are equivalent is not exactly correct. The majority of pregnancies are planned and a happy occurrence. When an employee makes that choice and then takes an extended leave that may not be available to others and which may create a hardship for others I can understand the negative sentiment that some people have towards it. I am not saying its correct but its human nature.

Obviously every situation is different and each person is different. I think at least a small part of this is that unfortunately some of the people who try to take advantage of the system ruin it for the rest who aren’t. My wife is an Ob/gyn and most of her patients work until the week before their due date, take their allotted 4-6 weeks of disability and are back at work when its up, but their are others who try to get her to falsify their records so they can go out 2 months before their due date simply because they feel entitled to have the time off. Others try to get their leave extended a month or more asking her to manufacture some illness because they would like more time off even though they are medically fine. In most of these cases they are trying to apply for extended disability so they can get paid for this time off which means you and I would pay the bill. These are by far the minority but as with most things its the people who abuse the system who ruin it for the rest.

I agree that as a society we should all pitch in to raise the next generation in the best conditions possible, I’m not sure I entirely agree with the sentiment that its our job as a society to “produce” the next generation though. That may have been true when we were small villages but in an overcrowded, overpopulated world I’m not sure we should be providing incentives to have more children by providing societal support. I do agree it should not be the woman’s sole responsibility. Its an unfortunate hold over from our climb out of the primordial mud that women end up doing the lions share of the work. I think its slowly changing but giving women even more maternity leave only perpetuates that typecast role doesn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better if we required men to take an equivalent time off when mom’s maternity leave runs out so they can play a role and give her a break?

There is no way to ever make this completely fair. Men just can’t have babies and most likely never will but its important to strike an acceptable balance with maternity leave between whats fair to the woman and what’s fair the her employer and coworkers. I think we both agree on that. No one here is saying a woman should get unlimited leave after a pregnancy and no one is saying she shouldn’t get any. We are really just discussing how much is fair and obviously everyone is going to have a different opinion there. I’m not really sure how you determine that issue except to decide as a society what we think is fair, keeping in mind that there is a cost to others even if its unpaid leave.

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