February 18, 2010,
K.H. asks from Davison, MI on February 17, 2010
When to Tell Boss I May Not Come Back After Baby #2 Is Born.
I work for a small company of mostly men. Until I had baby #1 they had never even dealt with anyone who was pregnant let alone have a maternity leave policy. I've worked here for almost 9 years. It's a family owned business and I love the people I work with. I don't want to burn any bridges. For baby #1 they gave me 6 weeks of fully paid maternity leave. I believe they are planning the same thing for this baby.
I, however, am about 98% sure that I don't want to come back to work full time. My company needs a full time worker so part time is not really an option. I worked out the differences and weighed all the pros & cons and have decided that I am going to get a part time evening job a couple of days a week but I won't be working full time or during the day like i am now. We have a lot of seasonal workers so I'm not even sure if we would qualify for the FMLA rules - pretty sure not.
My question is this: When do I tell my bosses I'm not returning to work after the baby is born? Here is the big problem... the insurance my family has is through my job and I NEED my insurance to cover the birth. That is not negotiable. It has to cover the birth. We are going to get insurance on our own through my husbands work but we'll have to pay for 100% of the coverage so I don't want to get a plan that covers maternity since they are SIGNIFICANTLY more $ in premiums. I also don't want to burn any bridges. These people are good people and they are going to be the kind of people you want to keep in touch with for years after you leave. They know a lot of people and have lots of community connections and are generally just good people to have around. Do I tell them beforehand so I can train someone for my job and chance that the insurance won't cover me if I don't work on the day I give birth? or do I wait until I come back from maternity leave and just tell them that I've decided that my family needs me and I just can't continue to work full time? Is there another option I'm not seeing? I don't think they'd fire me even if they knew I wasn't coming back but I'm really worried about this.
BTW- We don't get set vacation and sick days. If you go on vacation, they pay you. If you're actually sick, they pay you. There is no policy saying you get "X" days per year or anything so I can't take vacation pay to extend my insurance or anything.
I'm only 8 weeks so I've got plenty of time to deal with this but I'm totally stressing over it!
So What Happened?™
Thanks everyone for all the input. I have plenty of time to make any kind of decision on this but I'm a worrier so I wanted to get some sort of "plan" in my head for the future. I don't like to wing it.
They already know I'm pregnant and fully support it. I think what I'm going to do is this:
1) I'm not going to mention at all that I may not come back but at the same time, I'm going to work on getting my life in order (paying things off, getting rid of things we don't need, start living more frugally, etc.) as if I am staying home so that if/when I do decide to it won't be so hard on us.
2) I'll plan on coming back to work temporarily to make sure that I am covered on insurance and so that I can give a notice and train someone new.
3) I don't think they will offer for me to work part time... at least not for long. I will be coming back on the off season (though us office people do work year round) so there won't be tons of work to do so they may let me come back part time for a month or two and I'm sure they'd like me to train someone since THEY don't even know what I do! :)
I think this would be the best approach for my family and won't hurt the business either. Who knows, after 6 weeks off I may change my mind an WANT to come back! :) Doubtfull though. I want to stay home for a year or so and only work part time and then go back to school and change my career completely (I'm bored here!).
Thank you everyone for the input. I don't even know anyone who has ever done this. They all either quit while pregnant or stayed working full time afterward!
M.G. answers from Chicago on February 18, 2010
The economy is horrible. I would seriously consider not leaving your job after baby #2, especially because you carry the insurance. If you leave, I believe it will be a decision you will regret. It is nearly impossible to find a decent job nowadays, full or part time. There are lawyers and others with higher education applying for jobs that pay 30K a year, this is serious stuff. It doesn't sound too bad there. Please put much thought into this!
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K.V. answers from Grand Rapids on February 18, 2010
I was in the same situation. I didn't want to return and I worked at a big family owned company with people I liked. The thing is, they have to play by rules just like everyone else whether they like you or not. I was certain I didn't want to return and when I had my son and it turned out he had multiple disabilities I REALLY didn't want to return. He needed me. I waited until the end of my leave to inform them I wasn't returning. What did they do? They put my end date as being the last day I worked - which was before the baby. Lucky for me there is a loophole in FMLA that states if you have extenuating circumstances you do not have to return to work following a leave (ie: my unhealthy baby). I was told to pay my insurance premiums from the time I left to the present. If I remember right they wanted me to pay back my maternity too though I don't think I ended up doing that. Later on, I was told by HR that if I had returned to work for even just one day after my leave there would not have been a problem with me quiting. No paying anything. I would definitely try to find out what the rules are in your company. I know you said you don't have set vacation days but as soon as you quit or set a quit date they will take away all your vacation days too.
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D.B. answers from Charlotte on February 17, 2010
You have soooo much time between now and when you deliver. Please put this aside for right now and do your best work. Rest when you get home and let your husband help you through the pregnancy with home and your toddler. You have no idea what might happen in the ensuing months. You also don't want to take a chance that something would happen with your husband's job before the baby comes.
You need the health insurance more than you need anything else. You have a pre-existing condition - I don't believe that you will be able to buy coverage for your pregnancy. If you have complications, you don't want to be seen as not coming back to work. I went into preterm labor at 24 weeks and spent the rest of the time on bedrest with one of my pregnancies. If something like this were to happen to you, you would regret talking about the possibility of not coming back to work after the baby is born.
You can be as good to your employer as you can be. You can also decide after the baby comes that you don't want to return to work. Women do that all the time, and people do understand. Just have all your work up to date so that when you go on maternity leave, you haven't left any mess. You could even go in with the baby and train your replacement if you have such a small workplace. I went in with my stroller and helped out one day myself when people were out and they were in a bind. Nursed and worked, and baby slept through most of it - LOL!
If you are nice and offer to help and make every effort to accommodate them, you won't burn bridges. But don't talk at all about not coming back. You need to let this pregnancy come to term first.
Congrats on the new baby!
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G.B. answers from Detroit on February 18, 2010
My daughter was in a similar situation and just waited till she was due to return to work. She and I took the baby in the week before that and she told them she had made the tough decision not to leave this little to return to work. Sometimes small companies can work out something where you can work from home and come in only for meetings or very part-time, but hers was a full-time job that involved international travel. She also needed the paid leave and insurance coverage, so she did it that way. There didn't seem to be any hard feelings, though she moved from that area and didn't try to keep in touch. I think they always know that it's iffy when someone has a baby. You are my hero for putting your babies first and doing what's best for them! You go Girl! I once gave extra notice when I was leaving a job to move out of state, and was dismissed on the spot with no further work or pay. It caused me a lot of problems but I learned from that not to give employers more information than I absolutely had to. The marketplace is cruel even if people seem very nice and like family. It's still a business arrangement, and you've given them 9 years of your life. don't feel guilty. Your family is your primary concern, and new babies need their mamas!
T.B. answers from Chicago on February 17, 2010
I was in the same situation. I wasn't fond of my last employer, so I didn't care as much, but I had to wait until the very last minute of my maternity leave to let them know that I was not coming back or risk losing our health insurance. I think you should let them know that the family needs you, ask about working from home PT or something like that (it's worth a shot and you never know what they might say!). For me, they were not willing to work on either of those scenarios, so I just chose to leave. I didn't have a paid mat. leave, I took unpaid FMLA, so I didn't feel too bad having them pay for my insurance during that time. It's worth asking them about another option- as you said, they never had a reason to work out a maternity leave policy, so maybe they would be willing to work on a mutually beneficial situation to keep you.
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J.W. answers from Houston on February 17, 2010
I would not tell them at all before the birth.
S.P. answers from Philadelphia on February 17, 2010
I would wait awhile. First get throught the first trimester. Second, make sure you really aren't coming back. Even if they aren't a big enough company to be FMLA compliant they still can not discriminate because of your pregnancy. I would be covering my own rear end if I was in your shoes, wait until you deliver and then after about 2 or 3 weeks tell them you've decided you can't come back full time etc etc etc. Sure some people may think this is wrong to do but they could always find another reason to get rid of you, or drop your insurance or whatever.
A.A. answers from Detroit on February 18, 2010
I am speaking from an employer stand point. My husband and I have a few different companies, and have about 28 employees between the both of them. I would not worry about telling them anytime soon, but I am going to go against the grain here and say that you should at least talk to them about it before your maternity leave. You have worked with them a long time and it sounds like you have a respectful relationship on both ends. I agree with one of the other posts, that they may want to work something out that works better for you after the maternity leave. You might also be suprised that it's not as easy finding a part time job a couple nights a week. Those jobs are also very scarce. IF, they did not respond graciously, I believe, they would have to offer you Cobra, and you could just pay for your last month or two of coverage through them. (You can pay for Cobra up to 18 months after your insurance terminates). They sound like a great employer and I would be up front with them, but not till about a month before your delivery date (you might also change your mind by then).