Here’s Why Your Paycheck Is a Little Lighter This Week
The Paid Family Medical Leave Act took effect Tuesday, which has me thinking back to my own medical leave from work after I gave birth to my babies.
Fifteen years ago today, I was working here at Fun 107 and eight months pregnant, getting excited and a little anxious about having a baby and everything that goes along with it. I remember being concerned about making sure I had enough of my vacation and sick time saved to use towards my maternity leave – which came with no pay by the way, thanks Massachusetts.
Because of this, I was approved for Short Term Disability, which covered 50 percent of my salary for 4-6 weeks, depending on what type of birth delivery you had. How thoughtful, as I roll my eyes. STD would cover four weeks for a regular birth and six for a Cesarean section birth, which is an actual surgery that involves a longer recovery time. I would then be able to tack on any unused paid vacation time if I chose to. And believe me, I had to, so I did.
At the time, there was only Massachusetts Parental Leave, formerly called MA Maternity Leave in the Workplace, which required employers to provide eight weeks of unpaid leave to employees for the birth or adoption of their child. The MA Parental Leave Act applies to employers with six or more employees.
There was definitely a little stress leading up to this, knowing that really only my 2-3 weeks of paid vacation time was going to be in my paycheck during my 12 weeks of maternity leave. Out of the remaining nine weeks, only six of them would be 50 percent of my weekly salary and three weeks would be completely unpaid. Yikes.
Thankfully, my husband and I did know this was coming and had time to plan for this shortage in weekly paychecks that would be greatly missed. So we just did what I'm sure many others did and do today: we tried to save and put away for a situation like this. We figured it out and made it work.
It does bother me though that Parental and Maternity Leave is an unpaid leave here in Massachusetts and in most states actually. California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are the only states that have paid Parental and Maternity Leave. Countries like Australia and Sweden, employees are entitled to 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave, and may also request an additional 52 weeks of leave. I mean seriously people, what's up with that?
The updated FMLA establishes a system for paid family leave of up to 12 weeks to care for a family member, and up to 20 weeks for your own illness. The tax that pays for it begins today on October 1, 2019, and leave will be available beginning in 2021.