Advice Goddess Blog
« Previous | Home | Next »

How To Make Your Co-workers Fund Your 12-Week Vacation
You have a kid, how about you pay to raise it, down to saving up some cash to go on maternity or paternity leave? Yeah, that's right. Why should your employer (or the other employees) pay for your choices? Ron Lieber writes in The Wall Street Journal that paid paternity leave is the next frontier. How unfortunate. Here's an excerpt from his piece:

The continuing quest for a stigma-free paternity leave is showing a few signs of progress.

While maternity leave is now a (mostly) established part of the culture of work, we dads have it tougher if we want an extended period of paid time-off. True, since 2004, California dads have been able to take as long as six weeks off and now get a maximum $840 weekly check funded by all employees who are in the state's disability-insurance program. So far, it's the only state that does this, though. Otherwise you have to cross the pond: In the U.K., the new "Work and Families Bill" extends the right to time-off (with a small government subsidy) for many fathers.

In the U.S., just 13% of employers that the nonprofit Families and Work Institute queried in a 2005 survey said they offer any paid paternity leave to U.S. workers (moms generally qualify for disability pay). That number shows little sign of increasing. Indeed, the sad reality is that the decision to take a parental leave often comes down to whether you can afford it. So here's how to think about the financial challenges:

Many new parents are eligible for unpaid leave. With a few exceptions, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows anyone who works in a company with more than 50 employees to take a 12-week break. You get to keep your health insurance and are guaranteed your old job or an equivalent one upon return.

Also, you can take your leave anytime within a year of the arrival of your child. So it's fine to take yours when your spouse's leave ends, to maximize the time that one parent is at home and put off child-care costs.

The lack of guaranteed pay makes an extended leave difficult for people whose spouses don't work and for the self-employed, brokers and others similarly employed. The rest of us, however, can treat paternity leave as a goal to save for like any other. Nine months probably isn't enough time to plan. Instead, set a goal years ahead of time and figure out what you need to save to avoid debt while still keeping the kid in diapers.

By the way, as I've said before, it's utterly idiotic that health insurance is funded by employers. Pay your own damn health insurance. Think about how unfair it is, if one employee is a single person, and they're subsidizing some other employee with a wife and five kids.

Even at my poorest, health insurance has been a required purchase for me. I have an HMO -- Kaiser Permanente. Before that, I had Oxford (in New York City). When I was sleeping on a door (on two milk crates, not hanging from it like a bat or anything) during my struggling writer years, I even had health insurance then. Be personally responsible, and don't expect the rest of us to sweep up after you -- or y our life choices.

And that, by the way, means (as I've also said before), that school should be paid for by parents -- any parents but the very poor. We can still have public school (whether that's even a good idea is another question -- but that's not really my area), but we'll just take the school fees out of your taxes...if you aren't paying for private school for your kids already.

Posted by aalkon at July 9, 2006 11:04 AM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.advicegoddess.com/mt4/mt-tb.cgi/1481

Comments

Parents should not have paid parental leave. I agree with that because it really is discriminatory. Unfortunately, this article goes further and has logical fallacies therefore.

"By the way, as I've said before, it's utterly idiotic that health insurance is funded by employers. "

Employers use this as a hiring incentive. You think you should preclude their right to do so? They also base the amount they subtract from the salary based on the insurance you would need. If forced to not provide, they would simply be required by competition to increase the offered salary by same. A push, the single person would get a lesser, not more or the same, money increase as the married ones. Unless, of course, the insurance is by group plan. Then you need to talk to the insurance companies, not the employers.


"Be personally responsible, and don't expect the rest of us to sweep up after you -- or your life choices."

You mean like homeless shelters and emergency room visits for drunks?

"And that, by the way, means (as I've also said before), that school should be paid for by parents -- any parents but the very poor. We can still have public school (whether that's even a good idea is another question -- but that's not really my area), but we'll just take the school fees out of your taxes...if you aren't paying for private school for your kids already."

Biggest of the fallacies. Why do you preclude the "very poor", fuzzy feelings? An educated electoriate is a decent electoriate and society as a whole benefits. We see the results of poor education (for other reasons) today.

Personal property taxes are used usually. By the way, are you prepared to fork over the monies that were used to educate you?


An after thought. Doesn't France provide all of the above and yet hold a "most favored nation" status with some?

Posted by: Oligonicella at July 9, 2006 8:42 AM

I've never worked for an employer who paid for any coverage other than the actual employee's. Adding a spouse or offspring has always been deducted from the employee's paycheck, albeit pre-tax, which is nice.


The two good things about an employer provided group plan are the guaranteed coverage (pre-existing conditions--like migraines, in my case--can't be excluded) and the ability to negotiate on price (because the total sum on the table is big enough to make insurance companies compete for the business.)


FWIW, I don't mind so much that insurance companies don't want to shell out for my $22/pill migraine prescription. I'm happy to take responsibility for my desire to use the most effective, not the most affordable medication. But my last individual policy also excluded anything else--stroke, aneurysm, tumor--that might happen inside my skull. In essence, my brain was un-insurable. (Then I got into graduate school, and was herded back into a group plan, thank f*cking god.)


Posted by: Harriet at July 9, 2006 11:26 AM

"A lot of people would rather leave the homeless addicts in the gutter as punishment for their thumbing their noses at the Puritan work ethic and all the rest"

"Be personally responsible, and don't expect the rest of us to sweep up after you -- or your life choices."

I'm confused.

Posted by: guy smiley at July 9, 2006 12:05 PM

There's a difference between the bottom of the barrel addict and the rest of us. You may not want to pay your taxes, but if you don't, there are consequences, and you probably recognize and respond to them. There are people for whom no consequences seem to matter. They cost us more money to use to prove a point than simply to warehouse. That's just the facts. I'd rather pay less than more, wouldn't you? Whether it's cushier for them or not isn't the question.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at July 9, 2006 1:05 PM

> There's a difference between the
> bottom of the barrel addict and
> the rest of us.

Would you care to tell us what it is? Use small words and short sentences.

No appeals to "common sense", either. This is about money, and we're going need a very specific metric, something sturdier than "I know one when I see one."

(No such metric exists, which is why taxpayers will always resent having to pay for the $spirtual weakne$$ of others.)

Posted by: Crid at July 9, 2006 5:50 PM

Not long ago on this blog, there was an article about pay inequities between women and men. One of the explanations given was that women take more time off work for family reasons than men do.

Now this article is complaining about the unfairness of men not getting days off that women get when a child is born.

So women want the same pay as men when they work fewer days, and men want the same maternity leave that women get when they do a heck of a lot less work in the birthing.

This is equalism run amuck.

Posted by: Gary S. at July 9, 2006 8:29 PM

If companies want to pay for paternity leave to attract talent, that's their prerogative. I'm amazed that you see more benefits to housing homeless drunks and none to an educated populace. An educated populace leads to a stronger economy, more technological advances, lower crime and other positive externalities. This leads to a longer, healthier, wealthier life for me.

Housing drunks gives me no benefits. subsidizing their housing doesn't cost me less because it just means there will be more people to house, thereby costing me more. Look at Europe and the side effects of their very generous social services. High unemployment, high poverty rates* and lower overall productivity.

* Pre-transfer

Posted by: Mo at July 10, 2006 1:31 AM

I agree with all those who mentioned the benefits an educated society. I'll add this: I went to public school, so my education was paid for by taxes, whether or not those taxpayers had kids of their own. Now I'm grown up and Social Security is deducted from my paycheck, to be given to retired people who, through their taxes, funded the public school system. Ah, the cycle of life.

My point is, through this system of taxes and payroll deduction, we all "take care" of each other. Strangers put me through school, so I could get a good job and help support those strangers in their retirement. An imperfect system, to be sure, but it's not like a person without a child gets nothing back on their investment in some other person's child.

Posted by: Red at July 10, 2006 11:46 AM

"Think about how unfair it is, if one employee is a single person, and they're subsidizing some other employee with a wife and five kids."

But employees with dependents have much higher monthly insurance premiums deducted from their paychecks. I don't see how single employees are subsidizing that at all.

Posted by: Lena at July 10, 2006 7:43 PM

Leave a comment