Whether you're planning on having babies or you're already years into parent life, you're probably all too aware of the fact that the U.S. has a lot of work to do in terms of providing people with paid family leave. Sure, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993 provides eligible workers with federal entitlement to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for particular caregiving needs, but there is currently no federal law requiring employers provide any kind of paid leave, according to a Congressional Research Service report on Paid Family Leave. The report also notes that, as of March 2018, only 16 percent of all private industry workers, including men and women, have access to employer-provided paid family leave.
In turn, everyone from Democratic presidential candidates to everyday citizens are standing up for paid family leave. A woman on Reddit, writing under the handle Contrecoup42, has shared how she inadvertently influenced a company's maternity leave policy during a recent interview process.
The original poster (OP) shared in the Beyond the Bump subreddit that after suspecting she was making "way under market value" at her current place of employment, she's been doing some job hunting and interviewing. "Last week, I received a job offer from a certain company," she wrote. "I would be very comfortable with the work, and the money would be good, but it was not as exciting an opportunity as some of my 'maybe's. The recruiter and the company kept reiterating that they were very, very interested and willing to negotiate."
Contrecoup42 said that she's always afraid to ask about a company's maternity leave policy, because she doesn't want it to be held against her. But she plans to grow her family in the next few years so she feels she needs to ask. "In this case: no paid maternity time, no short term disability, six weeks unpaid with a requirement to use at least half your PTO during that time, and when you’re back, you’re back full time (no spreading your time out)," the OP noted. "Which is legal because they are a small enough company that FMLA doesn’t apply."
She continued, "As y’all know, six weeks isn’t necessarily enough time for a woman with a routine vaginal birth to even be done bleeding. And that’s totally ignoring the fact that maternity leave is important bonding time with your newborn that you never get back."
Knowing this, she declined the offer and left her reason vague. When they came back to ask why she passed and what they could do to change her mind, she put together a "polite but honest email" explaining her concerns. "To me, even if I never use it, this issue is a canary in the coal mine indicating the company’s attitudes about its employees," the OP shared. "I was unconvinced that this place was as family-friendly as it billed itself."
And that was "when the incredible happened," Contrecoup42 said.
The company sent her an email stating that they had been "talking about updating the policy for a while and losing a potential employee made them stop and think. They asked themselves why they haven’t made this happen already. And they will be announcing a policy change in the next week: 12 weeks maternity, including four paid at full salary, use your PTO or not as needed, and spread the time out as needed. They said they’d love it if i reconsidered, but either way it will be a benefit to the company going forward."
As a result, the OP said she felt like this was "one of the proudest moments of her professional life." She elaborated, "Maybe they would have changed the policy anyway, but this lit a fire under them to make it happen and hopefully improve things for the ladies who work there."
In the end, she said she wished she could have gone with this company but she got an other offer she couldn't refuse. "But it goes to show that sometimes, when the stars align just right, your feedback can actually make a difference," the OP concluded.
Redditors applauded the OP's move. g33thegirl wrote, "Good for you. I'm glad they changed it. Six weeks unpaid is absolutely insane, and I don't know how anyone manages that."
ttman05 shared, "Nice work! I really wish the U.S. would give more leave for mom and dads to bond with their newborns."
And a Redditor named EgnaroNeerg posted, "Way to go! You did a wonderful thing by being honest with them. Whether they were already in the process of making a change or not, it sounds like you really made them stop and think about the way they run their business and the importance of retaining talented workers!"
In response, Contrecoup42 thanked the community for their support. And her post serves as proof, once more, that when we stand up for what we believe in, it can benefit an entire "village."