Family Leave Fracas

Here we go again: The United States government cannot figure out how we can be a country that values capitalism and families.

On Tuesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved cutting a proposed eight weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees to only four weeks. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CAlif.) recapped the compromise by saying that four weeks of paid leave would make the government "a leader in strengthening families" and represent a "prudent fiscal approach," according to The Washington Post's Federal Diary.

Four weeks? What planet do our elected officials live on? Four weeks after giving birth, breastfeeding and getting by on two to four hours of uninterrupted sleep, I could barely leave my house. Contemplating leaving my four-week-old infant so I could waddle back to full-time work was a barbaric concept that made both tears and breastmilk leak from my body.

Our government has an opportunity -- and, I would argue, a responsibility -- to set an example of balance in family leave policies. Yes, you can balance the needs of businesses (including our government and non-profit companies) to be fiscally prudent and simultaneously supportive of children's and parents' needs.

Waxman and other Democrats argued to Republicans, largely unsuccessfully, that "cost should not be an overriding issue ... offering a benefit to keep people in government has to be balanced against the costs of hiring and training new employees ... Outdated family-leave policies are a talent drain on the government ... an incentive for skilled people to look elsewhere for work at the very time our government needs them most."

Republicans expressed concerns about the cost of the leave program -- even the four week option. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) questioned the timing of the policy, arguing that giving parent paid parental level in the midst of our lousy (and getting lousier) economy, sends "a statement that we are out of touch."

Well, Darrell, at least we agree on that -- anyone who thinks parental leave is a luxury is out of touch with the realities of caring for a newborn. What's next? Zero family leave? Rewards for companies who only employ people without kids? A policy that women are fined for giving birth if there's a recession going on?

No matter whether the economy is robust or faltering, our tax dollars have long paid for sidewalks, roads, fire and police departments, even baseball stadiums. Do you think there's merit to the argument that parental leave policies should only be generous during an economic boom? Why is it so difficult for politicians to include family leave as a "public good," one that benefits our entire society and is worth paying for? What's your experience as a parent in the federal government or the private sector or in other countries with more supportive family-leave programs?

Hammering out a balanced family-leave policy for federal employees also represents an opportunity to showcase how entrepreneurial and creative our country can be -- especially when it comes to finding solutions that don't necessary cost taxpayers money. What about offering full-time flextime to parents for the first three to six months after they return to work? Or letting them bring infants under six months to work? Or pair new parents to job-share on a temporary basis? Our country and our government have solved problems far bigger than a fair family-leave policy. It's not that hard in the overall scheme of challenges facing our country.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  April 18, 2008; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Free-for-All
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Seriously, Leslie, that would mean our leaders would have to think creatively. Don't you love that most of these folk run on family values, culture of life platforms?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 7:16 AM

I think 8 weeks is the minimum for women and 4 weeks should be the minimum for men. The kids being born today are the government workers 20 and 30 years from now that will be taking over leadership of the country. It behooves us promote families so that we have people to take over one day!

Posted by: HappyDad | April 18, 2008 7:22 AM

I agree that a family friendly government sets good examples but I dont think the federal government should pick up the tab, it is not fiscally responsible. I am a federal employee and a mother but would not support 8 weeks of paid leave.

Posted by: As a fed... | April 18, 2008 7:29 AM

As a Federal employee and mother of one (soon to be two) young children, I am entirely sympathetic to the argument that four weeks is not enough to spend time with your newborn. Keep in mind, however, that Federal employees already have very generous leave packages. When I had my first child, I was able to use sick leave (of which I had plenty) for the initial physical recuperation period--for me, about 6 weeks--and then use a combination of annual and unpaid leave to spend another 3 and a half months at home. Few private-sector organizations--especially small employers--offer something more generous. The point about being "out of touch" went more to the faltering economy, and the fact that firms are laying people off. (To say nothing of the Federal deficit.) Is it really the time to add more benefits for Federal employees?

Posted by: Federal employee | April 18, 2008 7:34 AM

2-4 hours of interrupted sleep? With both of my children I had no more than 45 minutes of interrupted sleep for the first 10 weeks. Family values huh, politicians, they talk from both ends don't they.

Posted by: lilac | April 18, 2008 7:43 AM

Please frame the arguement correctly Leslie, and differentiate between paid and unpaid Leave. 4 weeks of paid and still eligible for the FLA of 12 unpaid (an extra 8 weeks).

Your musings on "only hiring people that don't have children" lends nothing to the arguement. This topic has been discussed a dozen times here on OB, and it will go thru the push for paying people because of hangnails and the pull of forcing people to come back to work the day after birth. By the end of the day the concensus by the levelheaded participants will prevail, hopefully, until Leslie posts this inane topic again in 3.5 months.

Posted by: Get Real | April 18, 2008 7:43 AM

Thank you Federal Employee for pointing out the Fed options on Leave packages and the paid vs unpaid. Once again Leslie did not do her homework.

Posted by: Get Real | April 18, 2008 7:45 AM

"I am a federal employee and a mother but would not support 8 weeks of paid leave."

I am a federal employee and a mother and I WOULD support 8 weeks of paid leave.

Posted by: Meow | April 18, 2008 7:48 AM

Also in the Congressional pipeline is a bill which would permit married Fed employees to donate Annual Leave to each other.

Posted by: Gizmo | April 18, 2008 7:52 AM

I am also a federal employee and when I had my second child, I was still relatively new and used up all of my annual leave and sick leave, plus some days without pay, plus some donated days, to spend 10 weeks at home with my son. Thank goodness he started sleeping fully through the night (7-7) two days before I went back to work.

With my first child, I was a teacher and used up all of my sick and annual leave (that I had been hoarding for five years) to take 8 weeks off. Luckily, the T'giving and Christmas breaks were also in my maternity leave time so that was another 3 weeks.

The U.S. is backward in its family leave policies. It's embarrassing.

Posted by: Fed Employee | April 18, 2008 7:55 AM

I'm not so sure about the "generous leave package" thing. Yes, if you've been in government for years, you likely have tons of sick time. But I am a recent hire, and since I spent time before entering federal service getting work experience and two masters' degrees, I am 29 years old. So I'm now in the position of not taking sick days or vacation AT ALL, trying to save leave for having children in a few years. I would argue that it benefits the government to hire those with work experience and education, but it also means that 30-year-old workers won't have much time to spend with their newborns without facing some major financial hardship. At least give us short-term disability!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 7:55 AM

This is outrageous.

The solution is *unpaid leave*? So those who are wealthier who can afford to take unpaid leave should be allowed to have children? Or new mothers should use up their vacation/leave time? Come on. Private sector jobs are more generous with leave, with higher pay - how is the government going to attract the best workers? It's bad business.

I'm a Republican, and seriously considering voting for a Democrat in the coming election year. We are suppossed to be the party of family values, and over the last eight years I've seen the exact opposite.

As a male unmarried government employee, I've never run across a problem with the many women who have taken parental leave. I prefer that to unfocused, exhausted coworkers.

I'm disgusted.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:01 AM

Why should the government subsidize the choice of someone to have children? It's a choice!!!

Posted by: Get real is right | April 18, 2008 8:06 AM

This country has so many problems. While there is still nowhere else I'd rather live, our priorities as a nation are seriously out of whack. I'm sick of the lip service paid to the importance of families but when it comes time to make the hard decisions, none of our elected leaders have the balls to take a stand.

That said, most people do not get paid parental leave. They do, however, have the assurance that they can take up to 12 weeks FMLA leave without losing their job (16 in the District). Do I think this is right? No. But it's the reality.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 8:08 AM

I suggest, for the day, we ignore all the whiny 'why should the government subsidize children' flaming posts. They are sure to come out in full force today.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:11 AM

"Private sector jobs are more generous with leave"

Ummm, not in my world. When my husband was working for the government, he had 5 weeks off every year, along with every other Friday as part of a 9/80 deal. When he went private sector, he immediately flipped back to 2 weeks leave; now, 12 years and 3 jobs later, he's up to 3 weeks again (one of them as part of an "off the books" deal he negotiated with his boss). Whoo-hoo.

I'll grant you that the pay is better. But for the rest of the benefits, as a whole, the government is hard to beat.

I'm a Democrat, and I've long been annoyed with the party of the alleged "family values" that never puts its money where its mouth is. But I actually find myself somewhat in agreement with Rep. Issa on this. I don't know many private sector firms who provide paid parental leave -- FMLA, sure, if they are covered; sometimes STD. I think they should offer more, but most don't. So I'm not sure the middle of a recession is the time for the government to be jumping even further out front with more benefits. I would absolutely support something like STD that would cover this and a variety of other things, but I'm uncomfortable committing more tax dollars to a formal paid parental leave program given our existing deficits and slowing economy. At least end the ^(@##$%#$ war first -- bring that money back home to pay for this.

Posted by: Laura | April 18, 2008 8:22 AM

Unless I'm mistaken, Gizmo, Fed employees (married or not) can already donate leave to each other through the Leave Bank/Leave Tranfser mechanism.

As for the actual topic, I still say any of these 'family-friendly' policies are going to meet quick deaths unless they can be extended to all employees (not just for parents or child-related reasons).

As for myself, I'm a Fed, and at 39 weeks along (yes, I'm as huge as a house), I've had first-hand experiene of scrappling together leave and other options to cover my 12 weeks off. As another poster said, 'Is it perfect?' No. But it can be done.

I guess I still personally do not feel the general public needs to pay for my decision (to have a kid), much like I don't want to subsidize everyone else for doing whatever it is they want to do.

My other thought is if this paid parental leave passed, that money's got to come from somewhere. Are our retirement packages going to remain the same? Pay raises? Training opportunities? Because I really like all of those things and I do not care to lose them in any regard.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | April 18, 2008 8:23 AM

I don't like the idea of paying women to make babies. Leslie, your column today made the bosses blunderous statement, "Enjoy your vacation" to the pregnant employee legitimate.

Posted by: Bunny Hop | April 18, 2008 8:23 AM

I am perfectly willing to donate leave (and have done so) to someone who is sick but I would not donate so someone could stay home extra weeks after her needed medical recuperation period (6-8 weeks)with a newborn - sorry.

Posted by: Fed | April 18, 2008 8:25 AM

"Unless I'm mistaken, Gizmo, Fed employees (married or not) can already donate leave to each other through the Leave Bank/Leave Tranfser mechanism"

The proposal eliminates some of the current burdensome requirements.

Posted by: Gizmo | April 18, 2008 8:28 AM

"When my husband was working for the government, he had 5 weeks off every year, along with every other Friday as part of a 9/80 deal."

5 weeks off every year comes after 15 years of service! Not exactly when most women are having babies.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:30 AM

Paying women to make babies? Are you kidding me with this? How is it that paid maternity leave pays a woman to make a baby? How about the cost of raising a child? The idea that maternity leave is some kind of a vacation is insane and is clearly being offered by people who've never had kids and apparently don't have the ability to emphathize.

Why don't you take a 12 week leave of absence during which you either have major abdominal surgery or pass a bowling ball, and then get only 2 hours sleep a night while healing. Does that sound like a vacation to you?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 8:31 AM

aftre the birth/adoption ofyour child"I am perfectly willing to donate leave (and have done so) to someone who is sick but I would not donate so someone could stay home extra weeks after her needed medical recuperation period (6-8 weeks)with a newborn - sorry."

Would you donate leave to your wife to stay home extra weeks after the birth/adoption of your child?

Posted by: Gizmo | April 18, 2008 8:33 AM

Be grateful to even have the opportunity of 4 weeks of paid leave. The very vast majority of those in the private sector get ZERO paid leave.

Posted by: danilynn17 | April 18, 2008 8:34 AM

Getting paid maturnity leave is nice, but it is definitely a rarity. I am someone who is hoping to have a child soon and we have worked to save enough for me to take 12 weeks of FMLA. In the private sector, you can't "borrow" vacation or carry over enough sick leave to cover the 12 weeks. Yes, it has meant we have waited several years to have a child, but I know it will be worth it when I am off.

I am against this policy since it is fair to only a few people, but does not seem to do anything to encourage companies to take up the same practice.

Posted by: Thought | April 18, 2008 8:46 AM

Would I donate leave to spouse - of course. A stranger or co-worker - probably not.

Posted by: Fed | April 18, 2008 8:47 AM

Let's look at the numbers:
1) All Fed employees get 13 days of sick leave per year with unlimited carry-over.
2) Working 0-2 years, employee gets 13 days of annual leave with 30 days max carry-over. Working 3-15 years, it jumps to 20 days (still with 30 days max carry-over).

So, you come out of college and work for the government. After 5 years, you've earned 65 days of sick leave but you've used 3 days per year (doctor's appointments, sick days, etc) so you have 50 days in the bank.
You've earned 79 days of annual leave but you've used 8 days per year so you have 39 days in the bank.

You have 89 days of annual and sick banked - almost 14 weeks. If use it all, you can use advanced annual and advanced sick leave.

Families have suvived for years. It doesn't need to be changed. However, if it is going to be changed, the government MUST give a similar (and equal) amount of paid leave to those NOT having kids (or already had kids). Say every 10 years you get 4-weeks paid extra vacation if you haven't used it for the birth/adoption of a kid.

Posted by: Fed gov worker with 2 | April 18, 2008 8:48 AM

It's actually hard for me to have any sympathy for the fed employees here. I have a lot of friends who are govt employees and they had way more paid leave for maternity than I did. As an earlier poster said, the leave they currently receive is ridiculous. My fed friends were able to take 12+ paid weeks of leave.

For me....I hoarded my sick and vacation and managed to cobble together 20 days of paid leave. I did another 6 weeks unpaid, and returned to work with zero leave available. That meant, no sick leave for a 10 week old child entering day care, and certainly no vacation for the foreseeable future.

And by the way, my fed friends also make very nice salaries. Straight out of college, several were on management tracks, moving up to GS14s and 15s within 10 years. All that, with a pension to look forward to? Wow.

Posted by: Jen | April 18, 2008 8:50 AM

Zero paid leave in the private sector? Who are you working for?

I've worked at three universities, with six to = eight weeks of paid leave for each child per birth. I have many friends who take advantage of six to eight weeks of paid leave who work in multiple private sector jobs: auto industry, law firm (one is a lawyer, one paralegal, same benefits), IT (one a large national well-known web company, one small, homegrown here in MI). The standard is that the benefit comes after two years of employement, with half offered after one year.

I've also had one friend at the Univeristy I work at take the time for major surgery; it was very helpful for this man to have six weeks of paid leave after an unexpected complication.

I can see small employers in the private sector, but my experience (from the midwest) is that there tends to be a fair amount of paid leave covered before FMLA starts at medium to large private sector companies.

And before the jokes about the auto industry start: yep. One of the reasons it's tough for the auto industry to compete is the comprehensive benefit package offered to employees which is paid for by the government in other countries. Not the reason, but one of the reasons.

Posted by: Ann Arbor | April 18, 2008 8:53 AM

For those of you out there without children that don't think people should get time off to care for newborns, just think about who will be running the country when you are in retirement.

You better hope that people who share your political values are having babies now so they can support your values and your needs in your old age. The best way to ensure this is to make sure people in your social class with your values have access to friendly family leave policies. You may not want the kids yourself, but one day you will depend on other people's children.

Personally, I believe everyone should have access to paid family leave to care for their newborns. I just make this argument for the people who say we shouldn't be paying women to have babies. You may not want to pay for them now, but one day you'll be wishing you helped paid for those babies.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:53 AM

Thought -- very good point. Most companies/firms/organizations do not allow their employees to carry over more than a week or so of leave into the following year. There are certainly exceptions, such as teaching, but not many. I've been asked many times why we can't allow people to carry over as much leave as they don't use (especially since it makes for a crazed December when people burn their leave instead of using it), but it would be an administrative nightmare, at least for us. I would be interested in hearing from people who don't work for the government on whether their companies/firms allow them to carry over as much leave as they want.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 8:53 AM

I am a Federal employee who has had 2 children while employed by the Federal Government. I was able to take 6 months maternity leave for each child. My husband and I valued this greatly, so I saved leave (about 4 months worth for the first) and we saved money to make pay for the other 2 months. With our 2nd child, I ended up with 10 weeks of bedrest, so only 2 weeks of my 6 month maternity leave was paid. Meanwhile, my husband received 4 weeks of paid paternity leave from his private sector company. So after I returned to work, I started with 0 hours annual leave and 0 hours sick leave. My husband meanwhile has all his vaction and sick leave in tack!

Posted by: SLP | April 18, 2008 8:54 AM

It's hard to comment on the insanity of this issue when we are spending billions daily in Iraq, but for the person who suggested we give those who don't have children some extra leave every 10 years, well, what will happen when MY children, for whom I pay (over the course of 21 years) several hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket, end up taking care of them in their old age?

I did NOT get leave for my kids and I had twins and about 45 minutes sleep every few hours.

Paid leave is not a luxury, it is a necessity.

Posted by: Andrea | April 18, 2008 8:58 AM

"Why don't you take a 12 week leave of absence during which you either have major abdominal surgery or pass a bowling ball, and then get only 2 hours sleep a night while healing. Does that sound like a vacation to you?"

This is ridiculous. It was your decision to "pass a bowling ball and then get only 2 hours of sleep a night while healing". These are factors that a woman should weigh when deciding whether to have children or not.

If someone did have major abdominal surgery, they would be expected to use leave. Why should it be different for new mothers?

Posted by: Really? | April 18, 2008 8:59 AM

"How is it that paid maternity leave pays a woman to make a baby?"

Simple, it provides a vacation incentive for women to bear a child.

Posted by: Bumny Hop | April 18, 2008 9:00 AM

"Families have suvived for years. It doesn't need to be changed. However, if it is going to be changed, the government MUST give a similar (and equal) amount of paid leave to those NOT having kids (or already had kids). Say every 10 years you get 4-weeks paid extra vacation if you haven't used it for the birth/adoption of a kid."

I completely disagree with this. Maternity leave is not a pleasure cruise -- it's primarily medical, both for mom and child. Just because someone chooses not to have a child (it's a choice, as the childfree constantly remind us on this blog) doesn't mean they should have vacation. Come on. We can't make everything in this world fair and equal.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 9:00 AM

Since someone asked about private company leave policies...here are my experiences in the non-profit world (associations here in the DC area):

One job: Received 2-3 weeks vacation year/ based on tenure. Allowed to carry 5 days over a year. Received 6 days sick. No carryover of sick (I fought this and got the policy changed to a 30 day carryover).

Another job: Received 3 weeks vacation. No carryover allowed. Got 12 days sick. No carryover allowed. Crappy place to work.

Current job: Receive 3 weeks vacation. Allowed to carry up to 30 days at any time. Also get 12 days sick, can carry up to 30 days at any time. Plan on staying here a while because of extreme family-friendliness.

Posted by: Jen | April 18, 2008 9:03 AM

Bunny Hop

"How is it that paid maternity leave pays a woman to make a baby?"

Simple, it provides a vacation incentive for women to bear a child.

Is there any data to support this?

Posted by: Mmmmm | April 18, 2008 9:03 AM

Most companies/universities around here allow you to carry over at least your vacation. The universities allow you to carry vacation plus sick leave up to a certain amount. Many mid-range private sector companies have adopted generic time off (CPTO) that can be carried over indefinitely and can be used for vacation or sick time.

Posted by: Ann Arbor | April 18, 2008 9:04 AM

Bunny hop, ROTFL. Yes, that's right, that's why women have children, they want the LUXURY of maternity leave. Oh, the pampering wonder of an episiodomy, bleeding nipples, stumbling around on 120 minutes of sleep. It's a little slice of heaven, I tell you. But it's my choice so it must count as vacation.

Sorry, I'm just not in the mood to suffer fools gladly this week.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 9:04 AM

Although I am in favor of leave and senority retention for parents I am in agreement with Congress on this.

Federal employees have very generous leave and health benefits.

No one in the Federal sector gets pressured to retire or quit because they have a major illness and are running up health costs for their employer. This is a very real problem for employees in the private sector, particularly if they work for small employers.

To dole out another generous benefit on the public tab is not responsible.

Posted by: RoseG | April 18, 2008 9:05 AM

So, you come out of college and work for the government. After 5 years, you've earned 65 days of sick leave but you've used 3 days per year (doctor's appointments, sick days, etc) so you have 50 days in the bank.
"You've earned 79 days of annual leave but you've used 8 days per year so you have 39 days in the bank.

You have 89 days of annual and sick banked - almost 14 weeks. If use it all, you can use advanced annual and advanced sick leave." -- Fed gov worker with 2

This assumes a pretty idyllic world -- no personal health problems, no health problems with family members. I had to scrimp and save leave while battling 5 years of infertility treatments that were NOT paid for by any government health plan, 10 wks of pregnancy bedrest, the serious illness of my mother, and finally her death.

Posted by: SLP | April 18, 2008 9:06 AM

Federal employees have the option of borrowing advanced sick leave of 240 hours, which is 6 weeks. for new employees who haven't had time to accumulate a lot of leave, the childbirth recuperation time can be paid. None of us wants to come back to work without leave, but you do what you have to. Women have done it for years.

I also believe that the proposal for 4 weeks paid parental is in addition to any other leave policies in place.

The Director of OPM has submitted a proposal for short-term disability insurance for ALL federal employees. I believe that this proposal is much better than the 4 weeks paid parental leave proposal.

https://www.opm.gov/news_events/congress/proposals/STDI_Transmittal_Letter.pdf

Posted by: Another fed | April 18, 2008 9:08 AM

I'm a private-sector engineer with almost 20 years of experience. Paid leave for childbirth? I was allowed to use my accumulated sick leave, which amounted to about 3 weeks. I had used up some of my sick leave prior to birth and, of course, had zero paid leave after the three weeks were used up.

Feds do OK with their paychecks, but benefits like ANY paid maternity leave, lots of paid holidays and a retirement plan are where it really pays off.

Posted by: Jody23 | April 18, 2008 9:08 AM

"And by the way, my fed friends also make very nice salaries. Straight out of college, several were on management tracks, moving up to GS14s and 15s within 10 years. All that, with a pension to look forward to? Wow."

True in DC, maybe. I am a GS-12 and have 30 years of service. I'm not in DC.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:10 AM

"what will happen when MY children, for whom I pay (over the course of 21 years) several hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket, end up taking care of them in their old age?"

HUH? Why are your kids taking care of somebody else?

Posted by: To andrea | April 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Does anyone have a link describing the leave bank changes? My googling has failed me.

Posted by: atb | April 18, 2008 9:14 AM

"Maternity leave is not a pleasure cruise -- it's primarily medical, both for mom and child."

So how about non-child bearing people (or those finished), have the option of 4-weeks should they need surgery (knees, hips, etc.)?

Posted by: to WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 9:14 AM

Please note, not every agency has a "Leave Bank." I have been lobbying for years to get one set up at my agency. No one is interested. The only other option is to put up flyers next to the elevators pleading your case to persuade someone to donate leave to you. How demeaning!

Posted by: SLP | April 18, 2008 9:19 AM

SLP said:
"This assumes a pretty idyllic world -- no personal health problems, no health problems with family members. I had to scrimp and save leave while battling 5 years of infertility treatments that were NOT paid for by any government health plan, 10 wks of pregnancy bedrest, the serious illness of my mother, and finally her death."

And in my 17+ years in the government, your case is in the minority. My comments were for the majority.

Younger people, in general, don't deal with sick relatives (as the relatives are gnerally younger) so they can build the leave for having kids. After the birth, generally, the kids only have normal illnesses and parents can build the leave banks. Later, the parents have the leave (in general) to care for their sick parents.

And to workingmom, I misspoke with saying we should get 4-weeks extra vacation. The 4-weeks should be available as extra sick leave for medical recovery. That's pretty equal, no?

Posted by: Fed gov worker with 2 | April 18, 2008 9:20 AM

"Does anyone have a link describing the leave bank changes? My googling has failed me. "

What leave bank changes do you mean? As far as I know, the government hasn't change the leave bank rules (yet)

Posted by: to atb | April 18, 2008 9:21 AM

Anyone who things parental leave is sitting at home living the high life has never been on maternity/paternity leave. It is not sitting around eating bon bons and doing nothing. You are feeding this little person constantly, changing diapers, dealing with gas, spit up, throw up. You're trying to get this little one (or ones) to sleep. And, these are just the kids with no health problems.

I think it is unconscionable not to offer parental leave (or leave to care for an elderly/sick parent for that matter). Yes, the Federal Government does offer generous leave but 1) we are talking about 4 wks paid leave in this bill; we'd still have to use most or a good chunk of our own leave to stay with our child/children longer and 2) many young feds don't fall into that "generous" leave category. You don't qualify for more than 4 hours per pay period for several years after hire and for the REALLY generous amounts until yo've been in the feds for 15 years.

Have we really come to the point that "just b/c I didn't get that type of leave" or "I don't have kids so this won't benefit me" . . . people cannot see the value of a VERY SMALL amount of paid parental leave? Are we that self-centered? Because that is what it comes down to plain and simple. (And don't give me crap about spending more taxpayer money . . . taxpayer money is spent all the time on things I don't like or disagree with.)

Finally, to all the "having a kid is a choice" people, well so is not having a kid. You want the benefit . . procreate, adopt, get a surrogate.

Posted by: Jen | April 18, 2008 9:23 AM

I think I wrote about this once before - someone actually was asking people to donate leave for her so she could take time off after a cosmetic tummy tuck. I doubt it would have passed the sniff test to be accepted into the program but wow. That takes nerve.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 18, 2008 9:23 AM

As I said before, a nightmare administratively. Also, childfree folks would argue that they're entitled to multiple 4 week leaves because their co-workers had more than one child in a 10 year period. Just sayin'. (It's my job to think about these fun things from various angles.)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 9:24 AM

I'm looking for the proposed legislation Gizmo was referring to. I looked in house.gov and senate.gov and nothing popped up.

Posted by: atb | April 18, 2008 9:26 AM

Thank you Federal Employee for pointing out the Fed options on Leave packages and the paid vs unpaid. Once again Leslie did not do her homework.

Posted by: Get Real | April 18, 2008 7:45 AM
----------------------------

Why should today be different than any other day? Leslie always misstates the facts and fails to give the information that doesn't support her position.

The fact is that we simply don't have the money to provide an extra 4 weeks of paid leave to government workers who have babies, and it's not necessary anyway. As numerous people have pointed out, there are plenty of leave options available already.

Posted by: Dennis | April 18, 2008 9:27 AM

Day 1 of Fed goverment employment, you are earning 13 days of sick and 13 days of annual leave - that's 26 days or 5 weeks and 1 day. You can use BOTH types of leave for post-birth issues.

If the government is going to give a benefit to employees, it has to be a benefit ALL employees can use. They CANNOT give a benefit it is impossible for somebody to use (i.e. a 50 year old employee is NOT going to have a kid).

I believe many people would back the new benefit if it were NOT called 4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave but call it 4-weeks special leave for use when recovering from birth, surgery, or adoption bonding. This should be available once every 3 years (or so) to avoid abuse.

Posted by: to Jen | April 18, 2008 9:28 AM

To clarify:

Everyone who works for a company over 50 employees is entitled to 12 weeks of leave per the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This means that you may take UNPAID leave for up to 12 weeks:

for the birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;

for placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;

to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child, or parent) with a serious health condition; or

to take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Anything other than that is a PERK. Any paid maternity or sick leave is a PERK.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 9:29 AM

Dennis- While I'm in agreement with you, I would like the option of short-term disability. It would be $40 a pay period and optional. You can only get donated leave up to 6 weeks, and only after you exhaust your annual and sick leave. With STD at least you could use your annual after 6 weeeks. Sick leave only covers the first 6 weeks (8 weeks c/s) regardless.

Posted by: atb | April 18, 2008 9:31 AM

ATB

"I'm looking for the proposed legislation Gizmo was referring to. I looked in house.gov and senate.gov and nothing popped up."

It's your assignment for today.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:38 AM

Regarding leave policies - I worked at 3 private companies before joining the fed gov't - only 1 of 3 allowed for leave carry-over (max 10 days). Everywhere else it was use or lose. I was up to 5 weeks leave in one job but it was use/lose with heavy travel schedule, so the co. benefited on that one!

Mid-career professionals can negotiate for accelerated leave accrual in the fed gov't - it helps it if was contract work that is similar to the job you are taking.

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | April 18, 2008 9:41 AM

"what will happen when MY children, for whom I pay (over the course of 21 years) several hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket, end up taking care of them in their old age?"

HUH? Why are your kids taking care of somebody else?

Posted by: To andrea | April 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Huh? Never heard of the medical profession? What do you think those people DO all day long?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:43 AM

I know I'm in the minority here, but maternity leave was a vacation compared to being a working mom and dealing with work, daycare, and personal life.

Maybe my babies were just easy, but I don't remember it being difficult on a regular basis - just a few difficult days here and there.

Posted by: anon | April 18, 2008 9:44 AM

I am thinking that if some (not all of course) women didn't act like martyrs/whiners with a holier-than-thou-I procreated attitude after giving birth then there might not be such a huge division betweeh the "haves" and "have-nots".

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | April 18, 2008 9:47 AM

Re: The Leave Donation Program

I've seen Requests for Leave due to Narcolepsy, AHDD, and weight reductin surgery.

Some of my co-workers will not donate leave for anything related to child birth.

Some will not donate to anyone they consider "overpaid anyway".

Some will not donate to anyone whom they know to have a spouse/partner that makes a "lot of money".

Some will not donate to anyone who has the potential to get a big windfall down the road, ie. automobile accident victims.

Some do donate to their own monster supervisors to keep the "jerk out of the office as long as possible".

Posted by: Jake | April 18, 2008 9:49 AM

zZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Leslie's out. of. ideas. again.

Posted by: Here we go again | April 18, 2008 9:49 AM

Actually, Leslie DID do her homework. If you enter the gov't at age 22 and have kids at around 30, you are all set, provided you have saved your vacations and sick leave. However, if you enter gov't at age 30 and want to get pregnant right away, you are out of luck. You have no sick or vacation time accumulated. It's true that there is no stigma attached to long (by US standards) maternity leaves and several women in my office have benefited from leave donation program but it is not the same as having a guaranteed paid leave.

I have friends who live in states where local laws mandate up to 4 months of maternity leave (unpaid) and they take it only b/c they can swing it financially. I think having upaid leave greatly benefits those who either have the savings, or have spouses with jobs that earn sufficient salaries to support 3-4 months of living on one salary.

In fact, as a former congressional staffer I had two 8-week paid maternity leaves, so to me if Congress passed this law with 8 weeks for the feds, it would only mean that Congress is extending the same privilidges to the rest of the government work force.

I am also told that Speaker Pelosi gives 18 weeks of maternity leave paid to her staff and my friends who work on very challenging committees have never complained about bad maternity leave policies. (They do gripe about the hours AFTER they come back to work, but that's another subject)

Posted by: dc reader | April 18, 2008 9:50 AM

"HUH? Why are your kids taking care of somebody else?

Posted by: To andrea | April 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Huh? Never heard of the medical profession? What do you think those people DO all day long? "

Um, being a doctor is different than "taking care of them in their old age". Taking care of somebody in their old age is more akin to being a nursing home employee.

And how is a child's profession choice make a difference when it comes to 4-weeks paid maternity leave? Mabye my kids (born without 4-weeks paid maternity leave) will be doctors while her kids will be ditch-diggers.

Posted by: anon | April 18, 2008 9:50 AM

'"Why don't you take a 12 week leave of absence during which you either have major abdominal surgery or pass a bowling ball, and then get only 2 hours sleep a night while healing. Does that sound like a vacation to you?"

This is ridiculous. It was your decision to "pass a bowling ball and then get only 2 hours of sleep a night while healing". '
-------------------------------------------
Actually, the decision to only get 2 hours of sleep a night was not HER decision. It was dictated by the needs of a newborn.

Not all federal agencies have the same policies for leave donations. Some don't have them at all.

You know, some women are hired when they are pregnant and don't have the leave banked, yet. It's really not an unreasonable proposition, paying for 6 weeks of leave post-partum. After all, if 90% of them come back to work and stick it out for a few years, or more, then the investment has paid off.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:51 AM

"what will happen when MY children, for whom I pay (over the course of 21 years) several hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket, end up taking care of them in their old age?"

What if by chance your child doesn't become a doctor?

Posted by: Really? | April 18, 2008 9:51 AM

Upon arrival in the Fed workforce, you can borrow upto 240 hours of sick leave - that's 6 weeks (http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/HTML/sicklv.asp) of paid leave.

Posted by: to dc reader | April 18, 2008 9:53 AM

Devil's Advocate

"I am thinking that if some (not all of course) women didn't act like martyrs/whiners with a holier-than-thou-I procreated attitude after giving birth then there might not be such a huge division betweeh the "haves" and "have-nots". "

More evidence that women are their own worst enemies.

Posted by: Mmmmmm | April 18, 2008 9:54 AM

"Actually, the decision to only get 2 hours of sleep a night was not HER decision. It was dictated by the needs of a newborn."

She knew it was a very real possibility - and she made the decision to have a child anyway.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:54 AM

"HUH? Why are your kids taking care of somebody else?

Posted by: To andrea | April 18, 2008 9:12 AM

Huh? Never heard of the medical profession? What do you think those people DO all day long? "

Um, being a doctor is different than "taking care of them in their old age". Taking care of somebody in their old age is more akin to being a nursing home employee.

And how is a child's profession choice make a difference when it comes to 4-weeks paid maternity leave? Mabye my kids (born without 4-weeks paid maternity leave) will be doctors while her kids will be ditch-diggers.

Posted by: anon | April 18, 2008 9:50 AM

Silly me, to have thought the mindset of having kids "to take care of ME when I'm in my second childhood (but 150+ pounds heavier than when I started this life)" had gone away.

No, no, people only have children to glorify themselves and as some sort of old-age insurance policy.

What the hell is the big deal about 4 to 6 weeks of paid leave? Don't most people earn a million dollars and more throughout their working career? How does that compare to 6 lousy weeks?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:57 AM

I don't understand the position that having children is a luxury that should only be undertaken by the wealthy. Why should government or private sectors profits be more important than the most basic and natural desire to create a family? It seems to me that priorities are way out of order if giving birth or adopting a child is an annoyance or even a "poor choice".

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:57 AM

"what will happen when MY children, for whom I pay (over the course of 21 years) several hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket, end up taking care of them in their old age?"


I will be delighted to have YOUR kids change my adult diapers. Thank you!

Posted by: Jake | April 18, 2008 9:58 AM

The report titled "The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings" (.pdf) reveals that over an adult's working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor's degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master's degree, $2.5 million.

Persons with doctoral degrees earn an average of $3.4 million during their working life, while those with professional degrees do best at $4.4 million.

"At most ages, more education equates with higher earnings, and the payoff is most notable at the highest educational levels," said Jennifer Cheeseman Day, co-author of the report.

The figures are based on 1999 earnings projected over a typical work life, defined as the period from ages 25 through 64.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 9:59 AM

Borrowing is not a solution -- first of all, 6 weeks is not a maternity leave, it's a joke. I say that fully realizing that many women are lucky to get that, but it does not make it right. And what do you do if your kid gets sick ALL THE TIME, borrow from thin air?

Posted by: dc reader | April 18, 2008 10:01 AM

"What the hell is the big deal about 4 to 6 weeks of paid leave? Don't most people earn a million dollars and more throughout their working career? How does that compare to 6 lousy weeks?"

We're not talking 4-weeks ONCE. We're talking 4-weeks whenever the family has another kid. So is it 4, 8, 12, 16, 20-weeks of extra leave over a career? Who knows?

Point is simple - add a benefit for Fed employees which can benefit ALL employees - not just the young. Just another attempt to discriminate against the old.

Posted by: to anon at 9:57am | April 18, 2008 10:01 AM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11641991

Lifetime earnings patterns. Published in 2000.

I have no idea if this will add anything besides noise to this discussion.

Everybody is well, I hope?

Posted by: maryland mother | April 18, 2008 10:02 AM

dc reader said:
"first of all, 6 weeks is not a maternity leave, it's a joke."

So how is 4-weeks paid leave good? If 6-weeks is a joke, 4-weeks is a bad joke.

If your kid gets sick all of the time, you go on the leave transfer program.

Posted by: Fed gov worker with 2 | April 18, 2008 10:04 AM

Discrimination against the child free. Hmm, I wonder why that's never been in a court. Probably because it's WITHOUT MERIT.

Posted by: What a Crock | April 18, 2008 10:04 AM

I can't believe the child free nuts are whining about maternity leave. Get over your entitled selves.

Posted by: What a Crock | April 18, 2008 10:05 AM

I can't believe the child free nuts are whining about maternity leave. Get over your entitled selves.

Posted by: What a Crock | April 18, 2008 10:05 AM

Right back atcha.

Posted by: Devil's Advocate | April 18, 2008 10:08 AM

"Discrimination against the child free"

No, not the child free - the older people (who might have children) but aren't going to have ANY MORE!

We have a benefit here for furthering eduction (basically money available each year for classes). I choose not to use it. However, the benefit isn't for "those in child-bearing years only" (as 4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave would be).

See the difference once you take the blinders off.

Posted by: Crock is full of it | April 18, 2008 10:09 AM

Point is simple - add a benefit for Fed employees which can benefit ALL employees - not just the young. Just another attempt to discriminate against the old.

Posted by: to anon at 9:57am | April 18, 2008 10:01 AM

I'm a fed, and I gotta tell you, without young people populating our ranks, I would not and will not be able to have health insurance. So, kvetch all you wish, if we want more young people, we have to recognize that younger people tend to have children. And having younger people keeps our premiums down. Not to mention keeping the working environment livelier, 90% of the time in a good way.

It's still an investment. I don't know many feds who have litters of children. I can only think of one or two (older than myself) who have 4 or more. I'm 40, so take it for what it's worth. Very little.

I have some benefits that they do not. I've worked here for more than 15 years, so I earn more vacation time, for example.

Any other fed out there find it ironic that when we're being courted we're, "The best and the brightest". The second we're hired we are viewed rather differently and usually perjoratively?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:09 AM

So 10:09, your premise is that everyone should have exactly the same benefits?

Posted by: What a Crock | April 18, 2008 10:10 AM

"What the hell is the big deal about 4 to 6 weeks of paid leave?"

About $10,000. Far from chump change.

Posted by: Bunny Hop | April 18, 2008 10:11 AM

"I can't believe the child free nuts are whining about maternity leave. Get over your entitled selves."

The same can be said about parents. People have had children throughout history without paid maternity leave. They do what they have to do, whether it be delay childbirth until you have leave, come back to work sooner, sacrifice more financially, get a different job, etc.

Paid maternity leave is a nice perk, but it is a perk nonetheless. I also like the idea of providing short term disability insurance for all employees. Then it would be a benefit for everyone, even if not everyone needs it. Paid maternity leave is only a benefit for mothers, and is discriminatory in that respect.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:11 AM

"I have some benefits that they do not. I've worked here for more than 15 years, so I earn more vacation time, for example"

Actually, they do have the benefit of more leave after 15 years. They just haven't gotten there yet.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:13 AM

"I can't believe the child free nuts are whining about maternity leave. Get over your entitled selves."

I can't believe people with children think that they deserve benefits above and beyond the norm. If anyone feels entitled...

By the way, it is clearly not just the 'child free' who have a problem with this policy. It is also people who have raised their children without this benefit.

Posted by: Really? | April 18, 2008 10:13 AM

I have to add one thing to the person who responded to "What a Crock":

You're saying "we have a benefit here for furthering eduction (basically money available each year for classes). I choose not to use it. However, the benefit isn't for "those in child-bearing years only" (as 4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave would be)".

You get the same paid leave if you adopt, which you can do at any age. Just FYI. So just because you chose not to adopt at your age, does that mean no one should ever get paid leave for it?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 10:14 AM

Why should the government subsidize the choice of someone to have children? It's a choice!!!

It has long been feredal policy to offer pay/benefits somewhat comparable to the private sector. Generally the pay isn't quite as good, but the benefits & job security have been better, so it tends to balance out.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:15 AM

To: Fed gov worker with 2

I am also a federal employee with 2 children. Yes, I think anything less than 8 weeks is a joke. I had paid 8 weeks on the Hill, why can't I get the same benefit as part of another branch of the same government? As for the leave donation program, I think it is a great idea but where is the guarantee that you will actually get donated leave. I have a colleague whose mother, a retiring Fed, gave her all her sick leave. She stayed home for nearly 6 months paid. Another pregnant colleague had a medical condition unrelated to pregnancy and is now burning up her leave. Of course, she is going to go into a leave donation program, but what if she doesn't get any leave donated? I think to use leave donation policy as a pseudo maternity policy is too uncertain. I am glad I am not in her shoes.

Posted by: dc reader | April 18, 2008 10:15 AM

I always love when Congress refuses to give something to the federal employees that they have for themselves and their own stafers (like paid maternity leave). Going through a pregnancy at the federal government is a joke. While the benefits, once you have a child are supposedly better (less hours...hah! more flexibility...hah!), the maternity policy is a joke. It's nice that you have to burn through whatever leave you build up in the short amount of time you work (and God forbid you should even think about having more than one child within 5 years), but then all of your leave is then gone when you need it the most (for all of the first year dr. appts, ear infections, etc.)

If the government is such a "family friendly" place to work, it needs to get with the times and step up.

Posted by: Former Fed | April 18, 2008 10:17 AM

"We have a benefit here for furthering eduction (basically money available each year for classes). I choose not to use it. However, the benefit isn't for "those in child-bearing years only" (as 4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave would be). "

The TransitChek program is the same.

HOWEVER,

Men can reproduce at any age.
Adoption isn't always liked to age.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:18 AM

"Point is simple - add a benefit for Fed employees which can benefit ALL employees - not just the young. Just another attempt to discriminate against the old."

Posted by: to anon at 9:57am | April 18, 2008 10:01 AM

I guess local taxes to pay for public education is also "just another attempt to discriminate against the old." Give me a break! All these types of things are investing in our (the collective "our") future.

Posted by: SLP | April 18, 2008 10:19 AM

"What the hell is the big deal about 4 to 6 weeks of paid leave?"

About $10,000. Far from chump change.

Posted by: Bunny Hop | April 18, 2008 10:11 AM

Again, when they come back (and the majority do), they provide more than that to their employer. As a rule.

Is it a guarantee? No. Much of life is a crap shoot. You can't make it all fair. But you can think down the road a bit.

For example, be nice to the people under you as you climb life's ladder. You'll be meeting them later on, as you are going down, and they are climbing up.

So avoid their faces and fingers.

Young people tend to be the ones making their own children. They are also at the start of their working career. That $10,000 isn't diddly-squat when compared to their lifetime earnings. You are betting on their return to the workplace (a reasonably safe bet) and recouping your money through their efforts. Okay, if you lose, but they rejoin the workforce later on, they still generate far more than $10,000 by the time they retire.

I just don't know many people, even stay-at-home parents, who have a Social Security statement with a lifetime earnings of $0. I know they're out there, but many of them are old.

*shrugs*

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:22 AM

"By the way, it is clearly not just the 'child free' who have a problem with this policy. It is also people who have raised their children without this benefit."

Posted by: Really? | April 18, 2008 10:13 AM

Not true! I have had 2 children while employed by the Federal Government. I would have loved to have had the proposed maternity benefits. That does not mean that since I'm about to turn 50 and I can't benefit from this proposal that I'm not for it! Far from it -- I say it's about time!

Posted by: SLP | April 18, 2008 10:25 AM

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States

Sorry, I meant to say "$10,000 IS diddly-squat when compared to their lifetime earnings". It's also a BIG HELP at the time, particularly if it's at the beginning (say 20s) of their careers.

I don't begrudge them. I was once one of them. Yeah, I was able to bank leave and had uneventful pregnancies. I was LUCKY. Some people are not as lucky in that regard.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:26 AM

Companies are all about continuity. Leaves like this disrupt that continuity and that's why Republicans (who are supported by the business community) are loathe to support it.

Posted by: cab91 | April 18, 2008 10:26 AM

I worked for a company that had employer-paid short term disability. It covered the 6 weeks before long term disability kicked in. I think the LTD was part employee/part employer paid.

This was the only company I ever worked for that had this benefit. Usually, STD is a fully employee paid benefit.

I agree that fed employees have great benefits already. And, I also agree that it shouldn't create a benefit that excludes a good portion of the workforce. But, if the fed gov't wants to set an example for private sector, then they should call it STD.

Personally, I have a hard time believing this benefit is necessary for fed employees. I work as a contractor and see the administrative, sick, vacation, donated and comp leave that is accrued and used. Even without comparing it to anything else, it's a good benefit.

Posted by: prarie dog | April 18, 2008 10:27 AM

"I have some benefits that they do not. I've worked here for more than 15 years, so I earn more vacation time, for example. "

But if they continue to work, they will get it.

4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers.

Posted by: to 10:09 | April 18, 2008 10:30 AM

I am a fed employee.

Much is made about being able to "borrow" sick leave. But then you have to pay it back.

I had my daughter 17 months ago, and probably won't have my sick leave repaid for another year. That means that the only leave I have now is annual, and I have to use that for things relating to both me and my daughter. Forget building up a cushion, or taking anthing more than a few days' vacation.

The worst aspect of this job is that I'm basically a salaried employee in an hourly job. Leave 30 minutes early...take .5 hours leave. When I was in the private sector, we never took sick or vacation time unless we were completely out of pocket. None of this nickle-and-diming of time. All you had to do was get the job done. At the govt, its all about butts in seats.

Posted by: hockeyfan | April 18, 2008 10:31 AM

By the way, it is clearly not just the 'child free' who have a problem with this policy. It is also people who have raised their children without this benefit.

I realize this will come as a shock to you, but some people who had it tougher in the workplace want it to be BETTER than it was when they had their children. With your attitude, the US would never, e.g., have legalized equal pay for women in the same jobs as men, or for employees regardless of race etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:31 AM

prarie dog: "I worked for a company that had employer-paid short term disability. It covered the 6 weeks before long term disability kicked in. I think the LTD was part employee/part employer paid."

STD is a great benefit to have, whether employee- or employer-paid. Mine has been employer-paid in every private company for which I've worked, but I'd take it even if I had to pay the premium myself.

LTD is generally employee-paid, because it's better tax-wise that way. (If LTD is employee-paid and you have to collect it, it's considered "insurance" and there's no income tax. If it's employer-paid and you collect, then it's taxable. If you ever have to collect, you're way ahead of the game having paid the premium yourself.)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 18, 2008 10:32 AM

"I guess local taxes to pay for public education is also "just another attempt to discriminate against the old." "

Um, the public education is a benefit which old people used (either as a student themselves or on their kids - or both).

Posted by: to SLP | April 18, 2008 10:33 AM

Some of us really want things to be fair. What if there was a proposal for all employees to pay the same amount for health insurance, regardless of whether they had seven kids or none?

I don't understand this "everyone should have it" mentality. And the idea that people who are older, who raised their children without the protection FMLA now offers, actually WANT to get rid of the benefits and coverage they wish they'd had -- well, those of you thinking this need some time for introspection. You really seem to have a mean streak in you.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 10:38 AM

"4-weeks paid maternity/paternity leave will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers."

Hazardous duty pay will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers; namely, those who choose not to take assignments in hazardous places.

Flight pay will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers.

Foreign-language incentive pay (bonuses for being proficient in several key languages) will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers.

Special pay scales for doctors (e.g., NIH) scientists, etc. will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers.

Free periodic trips home for government workers stationed overseas will NOT benefit a large percentage of government workers.

You get my drift now, right?

The 4 weeks medical leave is NOT just for women who give birth/women of child bearing age. It's for new mothers and fathers, regardless of whether that's by childbirth or adoption.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:38 AM

"I realize this will come as a shock to you, but some people who had it tougher in the workplace want it to be BETTER than it was when they had their children. With your attitude, the US would never, e.g., have legalized equal pay for women in the same jobs as men, or for employees regardless of race etc."

This isn't my attitude - if you read through the comments you will notice that many of the people opposed to this benefit are parents with raised children.

Also, it is ridiculous to compare equal wages for women or racial equality to maternity leave. Equality is a basic human right, 8 weeks off because you had a child is a perk.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:39 AM

""I guess local taxes to pay for public education is also "just another attempt to discriminate against the old." "

Um, the public education is a benefit which old people used (either as a student themselves or on their kids - or both)."

So you're saying no new benefits ever? The world should never change and move on? What about the social security that you get that I will never get?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:39 AM

"Um, the public education is a benefit which old people used (either as a student themselves or on their kids - or both)."

What if the old people only went to private schools, and then either sent their kids to private schools or never had any kids?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:40 AM

I forgot to mention that I was able to use the employer-paid STD for maternity leave. Very nice! I was working for a different employer for my first child, and was in the boat of having to save up sick and vacation.

Posted by: prarie dog | April 18, 2008 10:40 AM

"So you're saying no new benefits ever? "

No, I'm saying no new benefits that can only be used by few.

"What if the old people only went to private schools, and then either sent their kids to private schools or never had any kids?"

Choices - all choices. They opted to NOT use the benefit - versus not being able to use the benefit. 4-weeks paid leave is akin to saying "You can't go to public school since you're black."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:46 AM

What if the old people only went to private schools, and then either sent their kids to private schools or never had any kids?

That assumes that society as a whole, which includes those old people and their families who only ever attended private schools, doesn't benefit in the least from public education. Talk about fallacious reasoning. I assume the poster was being sarcastic, though.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:47 AM

"4-weeks paid leave is akin to saying "You can't go to public school since you're black.""

Bizarre. Truly bizarre. Who are the "black" people in this case? Men? No, because they can use the leave when their wives give birth or when they adopt.

Women older than a certain age? No, because they can use the leave when they adopt, which is generally NOT limited by age.

The only people who can NEVER use this leave are those who CHOOSE to never have a biological child AND to never adopt (that's a logical "AND"; both clauses have to be true). And that, my friend, is a choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:49 AM

Maybe if the US weren't pi$$ing away $300 million a year in Iraq (for quite possibly a total of $3 trillion over the course of a decade), we could afford 8 weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:49 AM

Medicare is the second largest program in the federal government and faces collective unfunded obligations of more than $74 trillion -- more than six times the current size of the American economy.

The Medicaid budget is shrinking each year and shifting more of the financial burden on the states.

We are midst a recession and lending crisis. Retailers and airlines are filing for bankruptcy right and left.

We are fighting a friggin' WAR and are bringing home a large percentage of veterans with head injuries who will require a lifetime of disability payments and healthcare support.

What kind of drugs do you have to be on in order to look out on this economic landscape, smack your forehead and say, without irony or sarcasm: "This is an IDEAL time to make funding paid maternity leave for federal employees a top budget priority"?

New to those living under a rock: The government doesn't have a money tree in the backyard any more than you do.

Posted by: ECON 101 | April 18, 2008 10:49 AM

Pi$$ing? No, it's a full-fledged flood.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:51 AM

Just a minor nit on the tone of both Leslie's article and Barr's original Federal Diary article. The membership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is listed on http://oversight.house.gov/about/members.asp

By my quick count, there are 22 Democrats and 18 Republicans on the committee. So, if you hypothesized that EVERY SINGLE Republican opposed any paid maternity leave, the Democrats could still have passed the bill easily.

More interesting, Barr's article noted that the compromise bill passed by a vote of 7-3, with seven Democrats in favor and 3 Republicans opposed. That means 30 members of the committee - 15 of each party - weren't even there.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 18, 2008 10:52 AM

Recognition of Service benefit -- bestowed on hire date anniversaries of those who've been with us for 10, 15, 20, and 25 years. It's just not fair to all those employees who leave before then, is it?

Special Auto Insurance rates -- many people don't drive, especially in the big cities, so why should the company essentially hand out wads of cash to anyone who does?

Commuting benefits -- what if I walk to work? Can I get my sneakers paid for? What does the company do to offset the money I don't get because I DON'T NEED IT?

Employee referral bonus -- I don't know anyone I'd refer and it's not fair that other people do and get money for it

Gift matching program -- I refuse to give to charities but why should other people do it AND get credit for a bigger donation just because there's a company match?

Adoption assistance -- My company offers $5000 toward adoption costs. But I don't plan to adopt and I want the money anyway because otherwise, it's not fair

WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE WHINE.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 10:55 AM

We seem little schizophrenic as a country about whether we value children and families or not. The choice faction sees kids right up there with raising puppies or surfing as a potentially time-consuming but personal hobby.

Those of us who are parents feel like we're making the most important contribution we'll ever make to the world with out kids. They'll be our doctors, lawyers, furnace repair people and bedpan cleaners AND taxpayers after we parents leave the world.

Is it so unfair to ask the society that benefits down the road to contribute upfront for parental leave, education etc?
I guess in a society that can't see past the next financial quarter, it may be too much.

But I suspect we will face our comeuppance in the form of demographic trends. If it weren't for immigrants, the U.S. would be seeing some of the same declines in children that parts of Europe are seeing now. Young people come out of college with so much debt these days and face so many obstacles to providing a good life for their children. Many more people are *choosing* not to have children. Perhaps that's better for our planet in the long run but don't think we're not going to suffer for it in terms of our economy, social security etc.

Stand back and watch our aging society and see if you like those costs better than the ones involved in getting children off to a good start.

Posted by: anne | April 18, 2008 10:57 AM

"What if the old people only went to private schools, and then either sent their kids to private schools or never had any kids?"

What if the old people were only home schooled /Bible schooled?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 10:58 AM

"The only people who can NEVER use this leave are those who CHOOSE to never have a biological child AND to never adopt (that's a logical "AND"; both clauses have to be true). And that, my friend, is a choice."

I'm 50 and will never use this leave because I already had my children. Women today do have it better than I did. We could only use leave we had saved or borrowed (no donated leave nor comp time at that time), and we had to return to work after medical recovery which was 6 wks or 8 wks for a c-section. Women today can be off for 12 weeks and may be able to use donated leave.

In addition to being a federal employee, I am a taxpayer and as such, I am not in favor of additional paid time for parental leave. Buy your own short term disability leave if you want to be paid.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:00 AM

WorkingMomX's list indicates, more than anything else, that the feds think nothing of spending taxpayer money on benefits that have little to do with either atracting or retaining good employees.

How 'bout this idea: if paid maternity leave is so important than let's devote the money that would be saved by eliminating ALL of the following bogus programs to paid maternity leave:

Recognition of Service ("Tom's still breathing, let's wake him up and give him some money"),

Commuting benefits (decide and spend for yourself - that's what the rest of us do),

special auto insurance rates (ridikulus, 'nuf said),

the employee referral bonus (other than with respect to military personnel, including employees of Walter Reed -- the feds can get stupid, lazy, inefficient people to work there without hiring the stupid, lazy, inefficient friends of stupid, lazy, inefficient people),

and the matching gift program (give all you want but my taxes shouldn't subsidize your giving).

Posted by: It's not whining, it's logic | April 18, 2008 11:03 AM

special auto insurance rates

What federal agency gives special auto insurance rates? It's not the agency where I work.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:05 AM

PULSE CHECK: Great discussion. Very heated. Some name calling.

Is everyone okay with this level of fervent?

Or do I need to be deleting some of the (to me minor) swear words and finger pointing posts?

Please weigh in so I can keep the discussion productive.

Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie | April 18, 2008 11:06 AM

I do not work for the feds, FYI. But I hope they do have these programs.

And sorry, but it's WHINING. You want what you want without logic and sans reason. You want the stuff others get, even when it doesn't make sense (like maternity leave for people who don't want kids), except when you don't. Equality? Don't make me laugh.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 11:06 AM

Best fight I've had in months. :)

Posted by: WorkingMomX | April 18, 2008 11:07 AM

"You want the stuff others get, even when it doesn't make sense (like maternity leave for people who don't want kids)"

Actually, it does make sense. What doesn't make sense is 4 weeks off for a specific medical condition (childbirth) rather than 4 weeks off for any medical condition.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:09 AM

If the four weeks of leave is approved, I think that it should be conditional on continuing employment for 3 years beyond the leave period. If the employment doesn't continue for 3 years, the money should be repaid.

Posted by: lurker | April 18, 2008 11:13 AM

To anon@10:47

"What if the old people only went to private schools, and then either sent their kids to private schools or never had any kids?

That assumes that society as a whole, which includes those old people and their families who only ever attended private schools, doesn't benefit in the least from public education. Talk about fallacious reasoning. I assume the poster was being sarcastic, though."

The 10:40 posting was mine (sorry, forgot to put my name on it) and yes, I was being *very* sarcastic.

My point is that it's in our best interests as a society to take care of the next generation. Because, as Andrea points out in her 8:58 post, those kids will be taking care of us in our dotage.

Other people's kids and grandkids, not just my own, will be taking care of me. Some directly, by being doctors, nurses, etc. Some by serving their country and protecting us if need be. Some by being police officers, firefighters, and teachers.

Some will be running businesses that provide goods that I want to buy, or jobs for my family and friends.

Some will invent new technologies that extend my life or make it better. Some will create new music, movies or books that will entertain me.

And they're (almost) all going to be supporting me by paying taxes that will provide the roads on which I drive; the payment for those future teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc.; the parks in which I get my recreation; and other services I consume. (Remember, one of the "games" of an IRA or 401k is that I'll be paying fewer taxes when I collect on it, so it's a good investment now.)

So, yes, the world will be a far better place for me in the future if I help to educate all citizens and provide them basic needs. It's in my own selfish interests to do that.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 18, 2008 11:14 AM

"If the four weeks of leave is approved, I think that it should be conditional on continuing employment for 3 years beyond the leave period. If the employment doesn't continue for 3 years, the money should be repaid."

This is a great suggestion. This is the way tuition reimbursement works.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:15 AM

Leslie,

Fervent discussion has never been a problem here, except when it is to you because you get on one of your "nice" and "respectful" kicks. Nasty, gratuitous personal, targeted insults are what drives grown folks away. None of that here today, other than the occasional "stupid". Come on, do you really not know the difference?

Posted by: MN | April 18, 2008 11:18 AM

"I'm a Republican, and seriously considering voting for a Democrat in the coming election year.
Posted by: | April 18, 2008 8:01 AM"

Yes, you are a Republican, not a Conservative. What can my Government do for ME, ME, ME? This is what is wrong with the Republican Party, there is little difference with the Democrats. So, please vote for the Democrats, you will feel right at home with them.

Posted by: Get Real | April 18, 2008 11:19 AM

If four weeks of unpaid leave makes that much of a difference to parents, maybe they shouldn't be having a child. In the big scheme of things, four weeks without pay is nothing compared to the cost of raising a child.

Posted by: Just a thought | April 18, 2008 11:22 AM

I totally agree, hockeyfan. And the sad thing is, once I was in my seat (promptly at 9) it didn't matter what was done for the rest of the day (even if I had nothing to do all day). But look out if I even tried to leave a few minutes early. I also knew a women who worked a ton of hours for the first 4 days of the week, wanted to leave early on Friday, and was told she'd have to use vacation time to do it.

Posted by: Former Fed | April 18, 2008 11:23 AM

Recognition of Service ("Tom's still breathing, let's wake him up and give him some money"),

Ha,ha! It's known as the "Warm Body" Award in my agency.

It's amazing how many mediocre people think they "bust their asses" and "go beyond the call of duty" in the workplace.

I know. I review the nomination applications for awards. Employees are allowed to nominate themselves. I've seen some real lulus.

Posted by: Jake | April 18, 2008 11:25 AM

MN -- I just might have to delete that comment!

Seriously, my thick skin sometimes makes me impervious to stuff others find offensive.

So I thought the simple solution was to ask.

Thanks.

Posted by: Leslie | April 18, 2008 11:25 AM

I'm childless and unmarried - and I'd prefer to pay for maternity leave over bailing out people who bought houses they couldn't afford.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:26 AM

"Zero paid leave in the private sector? Who are you working for?

I've worked at three universities, with six to = eight weeks of paid leave for each child per birth.
Posted by: Ann Arbor | April 18, 2008 8:53 AM "

Do you honestly thing working at a University is the Private Sector? If so, I have a couple "special" bargains I want to share with you. I know several people that have worked in various capacities at VA Universities and they all had excellent benefits. Their wages may not have been the highest, but that is the trade-off. Pick your poison like the rest of us schmucks.

Posted by: Get Real | April 18, 2008 11:28 AM

dc reader

I know women who were law clerks & secretaries for federal judges who got a lot of paid maternity leave.

The policies differ between the 3 branches and within the branches themselves.

Posted by: Mmmmm | April 18, 2008 11:32 AM

Women in the military and Public Health Service get 6 or 8 weeks paid, non-chargable leave after childbirth.

Posted by: Throwing this into the mix | April 18, 2008 11:37 AM

ArmyBrat

"My point is that it's in our best interests as a society to take care of the next generation. Because, as Andrea points out in her 8:58 post, those kids will be taking care of us in our dotage."

What does that have to do with paid maternity/paternity leave? You didn't make your point in 8+ paragraph novella.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:44 AM

"The policies differ between the 3 branches and within the branches themselves."

Ahhh. The dirty little secrets. Some of us feds have ZERO maternity benefits, while others are reported to have 18 weeks. Some of us can only use donated leave up to 6/8 weeks, while others are allowed 6 months. I'm all for leveling the federal benefits, at least for the civilians.

Posted by: atb | April 18, 2008 11:44 AM

As a Fed, I had no idea there was such a vast difference in benefits between the different branches. Eye opening.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 18, 2008 11:47 AM

Maternity benefits (as well as other uses for short term disability) are already calculated in our current sick leave package. This is the reason we (unlike many private sector companies) are able to retain sick leave from year to year.

If this maternity benefits package passes, how will it affect our current policies?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 11:50 AM

You didn't make your point in 8+ paragraph novella.

Look on the bright side. At least he didn't run it all together into a single humongous one!

Posted by: ¶ | April 18, 2008 12:17 PM

The policies differ between the 3 branches

No, "The policies differ among the 3 branches." "Between" is only for comparing two things; more than two and you use "among."

Posted by: Grammar police | April 18, 2008 12:19 PM

I fail to understand the mentality of "I've having a child so everyone else must help me". You choose your job and you choose a kid. If your job doesn't allow you the time off then you should either choose another job, deal with it, or choose to not have a child. If you can't afford to take the time off then you shouldn't be having children.

Posted by: Missing the point | April 18, 2008 12:27 PM

"You didn't make your point in 8+ paragraph novella."

"Look on the bright side. At least he didn't run it all together into a single humongous one!"

Ha, ha! But I still don't know what his point is (I usually don't).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:27 PM

I don't want kids, but I'm not going to get irked at someone who does just because they're eligible for eight whoppin' weeks of time off to take care of the baby and I'm not. It's not as though that newborn baby can just up and take care of itself, and it is only eight weeks in a long career for most folks.

Maybe the solution in this case is to make the time off available to everyone, to be used for whatever you want. Babies, puppies, travel, visiting family, writing that novel, whatever you choose. Just set a limit on it. What that is, I don't know. I'm a bit short on caffiene right now to think it all the way out, so I'm just tossing out the idea.

Posted by: Sitka | April 18, 2008 12:29 PM

"I fail to understand the mentality of "I've having a child so everyone else must help me". You choose your job and you choose a kid. If your job doesn't allow you the time off then you should either choose another job, deal with it, or choose to not have a child. If you can't afford to take the time off then you shouldn't be having children."


Wow! I wanna work closely with you 5 days a week!

The FEDs should use this on their recruitment posters & literature.


Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:34 PM

In addition to being a federal employee, I am a taxpayer and as such, I am not in favor of additional paid time for parental leave. Buy your own short term disability leave if you want to be paid.

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 11:00 AM

I'm a fed too, and short term disability leave is not available to me. I can't "purchase" it.

"If four weeks of unpaid leave makes that much of a difference to parents, maybe they shouldn't be having a child. In the big scheme of things, four weeks without pay is nothing compared to the cost of raising a child."

Posted by: Just a thought | April 18, 2008 11:22 AM

Got any old paystubs from when you were younger and starting your family (if you did)? Pull them out, compare them to what you were paying for your rent/mortgage, electricity, water (if applicable), auto insurance (if applicable), health insurance, life insurance, any student/credit card debt, etc.

Now, tell me how feasible that is. Put it on top of recovering from (painful procedure of your choice).


Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:36 PM

Look, this isn't a case of "we have no ability to take time off and we need it." If that were the case, I believe most would say "give the benefit".

However, Feds already have great leave benefits and some people (old, young, with kids, childless) are saying "if you can't do it with the benefits you have, don't do it". I tend to agree with them.

Make this like short-term disability insurance. People can put a few bucks away each pay period to buy the benefit (like health insurance or LTD). If you want to buy 4-weeks of leave, be my guest.

Posted by: Calm down everybody | April 18, 2008 12:41 PM

If you can't afford to take the time off then you shouldn't be having children.

That worked well for the Shakers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:44 PM

"Make this like short-term disability insurance. People can put a few bucks away each pay period to buy the benefit (like health insurance or LTD). If you want to buy 4-weeks of leave, be my guest."

Can Feds purchase short-term disability insurance?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:45 PM

"I'm a fed too, and short term disability leave is not available to me. I can't "purchase" it."

True, the feds don't have a short term disability leave program.
But you could purchase short term disability insurance.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:46 PM

"If you can't afford to take the time off then you shouldn't be having children"

I can't keep my knees together.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:48 PM

"Got any old paystubs from when you were younger and starting your family (if you did)? Pull them out, compare them to what you were paying for your rent/mortgage, electricity, water (if applicable), auto insurance (if applicable), health insurance, life insurance, any student/credit card debt, etc.

Now, tell me how feasible that is. Put it on top of recovering from (painful procedure of your choice)."

Well, apparently it is very feasible. Look around and see how many working mothers there are who had children before a lot of today's policies were in place.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:50 PM

People, have we forgotten about demographics? The elderly (65+) are the fastest growing ("growing"?) population in the world. Last time I looked, aged adults weigh more than infants, tend to be prone to a far wider variety of labor and medical-intensive maladies, and get this! You can't bank on their getting better AND getting to work.

Maybe I'm feeling punchy about this subject because my grandmother is 92 and has Alzheimer's, my grandfather is 95 and has congestive heart failure, and their medical care is beyond my limits. They have to be in a nursing home, across the street from a hospital.

Whether we like it or not, if we are lucky, we're going to get OLD and need young(er) people around. Hopefully some will opt to help take care of us. In the meantime, 4-6 weeks of paid leave, at the very beginning is a small thing to make available. It's not like everyone is going to use it. It's not like everyone is going to use it more than two or three times, even.

My lifetime earnings are already over a million, and I have 27+ years to go before I can retire at my federally mandated "full retirement" age (not lose any hypothetical SS benefits). I was fortunate to have just enough leave for my kids. It could very well not have worked out that way.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:50 PM

>

Invalid comparison. The Shakers took a vow of chastity. They knew going in they would not reproduce.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:51 PM

""Make this like short-term disability insurance. People can put a few bucks away each pay period to buy the benefit (like health insurance or LTD). If you want to buy 4-weeks of leave, be my guest."

Can Feds purchase short-term disability insurance? "

I don't see why a Fed employee couldn't find a private insurance company for this.

However, if the Feds wanted to give a benefit of "discounted" or "fed provided" short-term disability insurance (STD insurance just doesn't look right), they should. This benefit is paid (in part) by the employee and can be used for any short-term disability (pregnancy, surgery, etc.)

Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:52 PM

"However, if the Feds wanted to give a benefit of "discounted" or "fed provided" short-term disability insurance (STD insurance just doesn't look right), they should."

OPM director has put forth a proposal for STDI (much better than STD:)).

Posted by: anon | April 18, 2008 12:55 PM

Well, apparently it is very feasible. Look around and see how many working mothers there are who had children before a lot of today's policies were in place.

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 12:50 PM

Have you spoken to any of them and asked how well that worked for them? I've had conversations with more than one where it was a nightmare like you wouldn't believe. Remember, quite a number of them didn't have jobs to go back to (prior to FMLA), and that wrecked havoc on their lives personally. I imagine it was costly to the economy too.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:55 PM

If sex wasn't involved in this subject, would people be so opposed?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:56 PM

"OPM director has put forth a proposal for STDI (much better than STD:)). "

Sexually Transmitted Disease insurance?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 12:58 PM

I'm opposed since we already get great leave amounts.

I'm for giving time off without pay and guaranteed job when you get back.

I'm for flexible scheduling and family-friendly arrangements.

I'm against giving MORE free things when we've survived so long without.

Posted by: to 12:56 | April 18, 2008 12:59 PM

In 2000, approximately 605 million people were 60 years or older. By 2050, that number is expected to be close to 2 billion. At that time, seniors will outnumber children 14 and under for the first time in history.
-----------------------------------------
I suspect they are using people 60+ yo as their definition of senior. Not so very long ago, a 40 year old was viewed as over-the-hill.

Anyway. There are going to be an awful lot of us depending upon younger people to be there (albeit not as many as there are today [no, I don't have a problem with the idea that 6 Billion people is Too Many]). I don't see how using the old lament, "When I was your age I..." is going to be of any help.

The aged tend to look back with rose-coloured glasses. That includes their own trials and tribulations at the time. Why not try being just a little kind?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:01 PM

"Have you spoken to any of them and asked how well that worked for them? I've had conversations with more than one where it was a nightmare like you wouldn't believe. Remember, quite a number of them didn't have jobs to go back to (prior to FMLA), and that wrecked havoc on their lives personally. I imagine it was costly to the economy too."

Not only have I spoken to them, I am one of them. My children were born in the late 80's. No one lost their jobs as long as they returned when the doctor said that they were physically recovered. Those who didn't come back and resigned instead apparently were ok without 4 weeks paid leave since they gave up their paychecks completely. Most offices allowed the mothers to be off longer than the medical time if they had annual leave to cover it.

And, yes, it wasn't always easy for everyone. But the majority of us just did what we had to do and got on with our lives. It was just life. I would have liked the first year off with pay, but that didn't happen either.

The discussion has been about a proposal to offer the time to federal employees. It sounds as if you are talking about other than federal employees.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:03 PM

While I support more paid leave for the federal workforce, I think we have it better than many in the private sector. My son was born when I was a relatively new federal employee. I had been with the feds for a little over a year when he was born. Thankfully, I was able to save my sick leave and vacation and took off for 6 weeks with full pay. It was not enough, but it was certainly better than nothing. Eight years later, my daughter was born, and by then, I had a lot of sick leave and vacation saved up. I also had a more responsible job, so I ended up taking 4 full weeks of sick leave, and after that, worked from home on my own schedule. At first, I only worked a few hours a day, but around 2 and a half months, I was working almost a full-time schedule from home, and only venturing to the office for the occasional meeting. I went back to work after 3 months, and am fortunate to still have a few weeks of sick leave and about a month of vacation in the bank. It was nice to be able to work from home, in my jammies, on my own schedule. I had a remote network connection, so almost everything I do in the office I can do from home. I even did t-cons from home, and productivity was not sacrificed. In fact, my office was very grateful that I was willing to go back to work so soon after having a baby.

I think that some paid benefits for maternity leave, along with a lot of flexibility, would go a long way to resolving the problem. Some government agencies are able to accommodate such requests. I do think it depends on the culture and on the boss. There does not seem to be any across-the-board rule or guideline. But people should definitely ask for what they want, and see what they can work out.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 1:08 PM

Emily

"I had a remote network connection, so almost everything I do in the office I can do from home. I even did t-cons from home, and productivity was not sacrificed. In fact, my office was very grateful that I was willing to go back to work so soon after having a baby. "

We have done the same thing for our "Superstar" staffers; the ones we want to retain and the ones we want to come back to work as soon as possible. It takes an investment of 3-5 years to train new employees. The "Superstars" are very rare; we keep 'em happy to keep 'em here, with no loss of productivity. It's kinda like a marriage.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:17 PM

Families have suvived for years. It doesn't need to be changed. However, if it is going to be changed, the government MUST give a similar (and equal) amount of paid leave to those NOT having kids (or already had kids). Say every 10 years you get 4-weeks paid extra vacation if you haven't used it for the birth/adoption of a kid.

---------------------------------------

No offense but......WHAT????? Just because one group gets something we have to give it to everybody? That is ludicrous. I am a Federal employee and we give paid military leave to those in the armed forces or reserves so they can train and be called up. Why? Because we have determined that it is public policy that we want to assist employees who choose to serve in the military because it helps the nation as a whole? If the above argument was correct, I should get the same amount of paid leave a military person gets so it is fair.

I think that we as a nation need to say that having children and adopting children is a public policy we want to promte. Giving women and/or men a paltry 4 weeks off is a way of doing that. If we people don't have kids because they can't afford to miss work, eventually we are going to have serious economic and social problems in the future.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 18, 2008 1:20 PM

"We have done the same thing for our "Superstar" staffers; the ones we want to retain and the ones we want to come back to work as soon as possible"

What do you do with your non-Superstar staffers? Serious question here as everyone who brings value to their position is not always a "Superstar."

Posted by: a question | April 18, 2008 1:22 PM

Re: blogs, from Slate:

"YouTube commenters. It's like dipping a bunny into acid.

In our time, Internet commenting has become its own special form of social idiocy. The best demonstration of this is a series of brilliant skits by College Humor that imagine what real-life situations would be like if people spoke as Internet commenters. (In "Internet Commenter Business Meeting," for example, a guy yells "First!" every time a new graphic is shown.) "

I want an entire article of this. This is funny stuff.

Posted by: atb | April 18, 2008 1:27 PM

Totally agree. Superstars are obviously super. But many organizations rely on B players to keep everything cranking. They are often lower-maintenance and mid-salary levels. A company with two many stars often implodes or bankrupts itself.

Posted by: Leslie | April 18, 2008 1:27 PM

What do you do with your non-Superstar staffers? Serious question here as everyone who brings value to their position is not always a "Superstar."

I do think that the kind of flexibility that I was given should be earned and considered a privelege, rather than a right. A few years ago, I worked in another office in my agency, where everyone in the office was able to work from home 1 day a week. Some people worked, some didn't. I once ran into a fellow employee, on one of my days off, at the movies during work hours, when he was supposed to be working from home. He as not even embarrassed, and told me he assumed everyone did this. So flexibility can be an issue when it is abused, and abuse is probably the main reason managers are reluctant to use it across-the-board.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 1:28 PM

"Whether we like it or not, if we are lucky, we're going to get OLD and need young(er) people around. Hopefully some will opt to help take care of us. In the meantime, 4-6 weeks of paid leave, at the very beginning is a small thing to make available. It's not like everyone is going to use it. It's not like everyone is going to use it more than two or three times, even."

I would rather see the feds spend money on helping our old people with their health care expenses and living expenses (save SS and Medicare) than spending money on paid parental leave. The federal workforce is huge and this could add up to a large sum of money even if it isn't used by every employee.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:28 PM

What do you do with your non-Superstar staffers?

Just think of it as a legal way to prune the deadwood.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:30 PM

"What do you do with your non-Superstar staffers? Serious question here as everyone who brings value to their position is not always a "Superstar."

An employee with an iffy attendance record wanted to go on flex time and have off every other Friday. She was given 3 months to substantially improve her attendance record to qualify for flex time. Her attendance didn't improve; her request for a flex time schedule was denied.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:30 PM

I agree that some privileges should be earned. In my agency, however, the privileges go to the favorites and friends more than the superstars.

TO: Posted by: | April 18, 2008 1:17 PM

What do you do with the non-superstars who are having children? this still hasn't been answered.

Posted by: to emily | April 18, 2008 1:33 PM

"What do you do with your non-Superstar staffers?

Just think of it as a legal way to prune the deadwood."

So, the only workers you have are superstars or deadwood? Not one who is acceptably competent or above average?

Posted by: huh | April 18, 2008 1:35 PM

What do you do with the non-superstars who are having children? this still hasn't been answered.

Posted by: to emily | April 18, 2008 1:33 PM

Why you put birth control pills in the water cooler of course :-)

Sorry - it is a beautiful Friday and I couldn't resist being snide.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | April 18, 2008 1:37 PM

My question is whether all the fed workers pushing for more paid leave looked into the benefits before deciding to get a gov't job. I personally envy the hell out of gov't employees with set hours and the ability not to work every other Friday. My private sector job has 3 months maternity leave, great for actually having the baby, but requires extremely long hours and weekend work. So it is a trade-off - accept the good maternity leave and the worse hours all other times, or switch to gov't and have great hours but not as much maternity leave.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:37 PM

"So, the only workers you have are superstars or deadwood? Not one who is acceptably competent or above average?"

We are talking about Fed workers....

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:38 PM

That's easy. Have the baby while working in the private sector, then switch to the feds after he or she is born.

Posted by: To 1:37 | April 18, 2008 1:39 PM

I don't think you should have to be a superstar to qualify for the kind of flexibility I got. I think it should be enough to be reasonably competent and reliable. My office has been pretty good about providing flexibility, on an ad hoc basis, to whomever needs it. One person in my office worked from home for a few weeks after surgery. Another did so after breaking a leg. People do it when they have to wait for the plumber or what have you. Generally, I have found that the more they need you, the more concessions they are willing to make, but in general, anyone in good standing will be get some degree of flexibility.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 1:41 PM

I love that people argue for absolute across the board equality when it comes to benefits.

I'm sure then they'd be in favor of a proposal to put everyone on the same salary level. Surely you don't think you deserve THAT much more than your secretary, do you?

Posted by: hockeyfan | April 18, 2008 1:48 PM

"...accept the good maternity leave and the worse hours all other times, or switch to gov't and have great hours but not as much maternity leave."

To me, that's a an easy choice. I would rather have great hours and not as much maternity leave. In the government, we get a decent amount of sick leave and vacation, so you could always save these up and use them when the baby is born.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 1:48 PM

Don't angle for the easy job and then demand all the perks of a for-profit environment, too.

Posted by: gcoward | April 18, 2008 1:51 PM

If we people don't have kids because they can't afford to miss work, eventually we are going to have serious economic and social problems in the future.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 18, 2008 1:20 PM

There was no paid maternity leave for the first 19 centuries AD and somehow we adapted to reality. "eventually" is quite a flexible concept.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 1:54 PM

"There was no paid maternity leave for the first 19 centuries AD and somehow we adapted to reality. "eventually" is quite a flexible concept."

I agree. There are a lot of people who don't even think about money when they have kids. I am not sure if this is good or bad. Of course people should be aware of the financial resources that kids use, but at the same time, if everyone were to weigh this and opt not to have kids because of money issues, we probably would not be having enough kids to carry on.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 2:00 PM

Personally, I don't think there should be paid maternity leave. The best argument of the pro-maternity leave people seems to be that it is in our best interest to have policies that encourage child birth. I can certainly agree that we already subsidize certain behaviors, some of which I agree with and some I don't. For example the federal government subsidizes commuting by public transit at my agency. I agree with that because I think it benefits everyone by taking cars off the road and decreasing pollution. On the other hand, that subsidy is basically wiped out with the subsidy for cheap oil and miles of highway to promote the personal car as the principal means of transportation otherwise. We all pay for school education and state colleges in many places. I think that's good for us all. The federal government subsidizes marriage. I don't agree with that, but I suppose it does create a profitable divorce industry. In the case of children, I think the world as a whole is creating plenty of children. They may not all look the way you want them to look, but there is no shortage of children and no need to subsidize their creation. I got off the bus today in Alexandria, and I couldn't take two steps without having to stop for a stroller. The children were all the "right" color too, surely being raised by parents with the "right" values at least when they aren't with their nannies.

So will I suffer because there's too few young people to fund my social security benefits, to work in the health care field etc? I hope not. Social security benefits don't enter into my calculations for retirement. I suppose if there are too few people working in the health care field, the cost of my old age care could sky rocket even faster than it is going up now and outstrip my ability to save. But I'm betting that we don't need to subsidize child creation. And while I am more concerned with the unnecessary loss of life in war, my voice will be against further subsidizing of child creation.

Posted by: PersonL | April 18, 2008 2:04 PM

"What the hell is the big deal about 4 to 6 weeks of paid leave?"

About $10,000. Far from chump change.

Posted by: Bunny Hop | April 18, 2008 10:11 AM

Okay, this hasn't been addressed.

BH, where are you coming up with $10,000? And are you applying it to 4 weeks, or 6 weeks?

4 weeks would equal $62.5/hour, or $130,500/yr. 6 weeks is $41.67, or $87007/yr.

The mean household income in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau 2004 Economic Survey, was $60,528, or $17,210 (39.73%) higher than the median household income.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:06 PM

And while I am more concerned with the unnecessary loss of life in war, my voice will be against further subsidizing of child creation."


I assume that you are also against Fed subsidies for child care centers.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:08 PM

*The mean household income in the United States, according to the US Census Bureau 2004 Economic Survey, was $60,528, or $17,210 (39.73%) higher than the median household income.*

The federal workforce tends to be more highly paid because of the type of positions which are mostly technical and professional. Clerical and service positions are few in the federal workplace.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:13 PM

"But I'm betting that we don't need to subsidize child creation."

As for the Federal Government, well, if you are looking to RECRUIT younger people than the median age (which is now 40, correct?), then you have to come up with benefits that they want. Is it fair to those who went before? Not always. But getting younger employees into (our) workforce will mean the insurance premiums we (federal employees) pay will be lower.

Younger people tend to be healthier, get sick less often, and recover more quickly. As we age, we tend to come up with more difficult and uncurable ailments, they are costly, and if we rely upon our peers to be the bulk of the insured, we will be pricing ourselves out of the health insurance market.

So, they want younger employees. Younger employees tend to be the ones starting families (not always). They may want this as a benefit. As someone noted earlier, it's not as though those who are voting on this issue do NOT receive this themselves. Sounds as though they and their staffers do!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:16 PM

The federal workforce tends to be more highly paid because of the type of positions which are mostly technical and professional. Clerical and service positions are few in the federal workplace.

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 2:13 PM

So, what's the median salary of a federal employee? Let's use all of them, not just those in the District.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:18 PM

Here are some updated figures on the average salary of federal employees for 2006. The average annual salary worldwide for the 1.8 million federal civilian employees is $63,125. For those readers who asked whether Congressional salaries were included in the average salary figure for federal employees, the OPM averge salary figures are for the Executive Branch only. It includes the Senior Executive Service. It does not include Members of Congress, their staffs or the Judicial Branch.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:22 PM

Using the 2006 median federal civilian salary, I came up with $30.28 per hour.

Let see:

(30.28)(80)x 3 = 7267.2
(30.28)(80)x 2 = 4344.8

I'm still not seeing where Bunny Hop came up with $10,000. Even for feds.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:26 PM

"The federal government subsidizes marriage." -- how? Please elaborate.

"I got off the bus today in Alexandria, and I couldn't take two steps without having to stop for a stroller. The children were all the "right" color too, surely being raised by parents with the "right" values at least when they aren't with their nannies."

This paragraph sounds hateful and prejudicial to me. Am I misreading something?

Posted by: dc reader | April 18, 2008 2:27 PM

1.8 million federal civilian employees...

Wow, if only 1/10 have a baby and received 4 weeks paid leave, that would be 28.8 million hours leave that was paid. If the maternity leave policy is implemented, then even more women who want children will be attracted to government employment. What would this cost our government over 10 years?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:29 PM

"The average annual salary worldwide for the 1.8 million federal civilian employees is $63,125."


There are may places in flyover country where that is considered a decent salary, not to mention the benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:31 PM

GS-13/1 makes 39.75 per hour in DC.

39.75 x 80 x 3 = $9540.00 over 6 weeks.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:32 PM

dc reader, I suspect the poster was being *very* sarcastic, rather than racist. At least I sure hope so.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:37 PM

"GS-13/1 makes 39.75 per hour in DC."

Are ya'll telling me that the nitwits I speak to on the phone up in DC make $39.75 per hour?

Lawd have mercy!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:37 PM

.8 million federal civilian employees...

Wow, if only 1/10 have a baby and received 4 weeks paid leave, that would be 28.8 million hours leave that was paid. If the maternity leave policy is implemented, then even more women who want children will be attracted to government employment. What would this cost our government over 10 years?

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 2:29 PM

Certainly a lot less than the Iraq war is costing us in 1 year.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 2:38 PM

Certainly a lot less than the Iraq war is costing us in 1 year.

Unless they have a baby every year.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:40 PM

The cost to the taxpayer to implement paid leave to it's employees also includes the benifits paid out to that employee, administration and implementation expenses. $10,000 a pop is a good ball park figure.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:45 PM

""The federal government subsidizes marriage." -- how? Please elaborate. "

By giving tax benefits to married couples.

""I got off the bus today in Alexandria, and I couldn't take two steps without having to stop for a stroller. The children were all the "right" color too, surely being raised by parents with the "right" values at least when they aren't with their nannies."

This paragraph sounds hateful and prejudicial to me. Am I misreading something?
"

I didn't mean to sound hateful. I don't think there is a right color, but this was a vague response to what I thought were vague suggestions that the higher population growth elsehwere isn't good enough. There are certainly people who believe that our society will inevitably come crashing down if we allow people with different colors or different values to become the majority in this country. I don't agree with that.

Posted by: PersonL | April 18, 2008 2:47 PM

to it's employees

No, "to its employees"

It's = it is

Posted by: Grammar police | April 18, 2008 2:48 PM

Here's one of the debates on the topic:

http://jec.senate.gov/Hearings/03.06.08%20Paid%20Leave.htm/

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:51 PM

to personL

Thanks for clarification.

However, I am not sure I would agree with you on tax benefits to married couples. In fact, I would argue the opposite -- double income living together filing separately pay less taxes than the married ones.

Posted by: dc reader | April 18, 2008 2:52 PM

double income living together filing separately pay less taxes than the married ones

So get married.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 2:53 PM

"Certainly a lot less than the Iraq war is costing us in 1 year."

OK, compare the cost of maintaining world peace to the cost to the taxpayer it takes to give a federal worker another perk. Emily, usually you are smarter than this.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:03 PM

I don't know, I always find the American argument about maternity leave to be weird - as if it is money given to parents to eat bonbons or like giving one employee a car and not another.

I guess because I'm half Canadian I see it as a benefit to the child and as recovery time for the mother. It gives the parents time to bond with the child without having to deal with financial hardship, time for the mother to heal and start stabilizing the milk supply for the child.

Sure, I have had only two children and since one died shortly after birth I didn't take much leave with her. I don't feel resentful about women who have had four. I don't get upset if someone has more dental work than I do either, or if someone loses an arm and gets paid insurance for that, or if someone ends up taking leave to care for a dying parent.

To me GROUP insurance and programmes are there precisely to mitigate individual circumstances - I may pay more or less in premiums than I get out of the system, but that is how I hedge my bets against large expenses I can't weather on my own. A few weeks after birthing an entire human being is something I'm content to throw into the pot.

I realize it's a huge, unsupportable leap, but I have to wonder if some of the high rates of incarceration in the US, largely for drug offenses, wouldn't be offset in part if families were supported from the start. (I think good medical care might well help too.) Early childhood is a critical time for wiring the brain to bond and develop empathy. From that viewpoint maternity leave seems cheap, whether it's federal employees or not.

For comments about not having maternity leave for 19 century or whatever (although I think lack of paid leave goes back further than 1 AD at that :-)) well that's ridiculous - lots of women and babies died, for one thing. Also women did take recovery time, if they belonged to the classes that could afford it or happened to have their babies in the winter.

Posted by: Shandra | April 18, 2008 3:04 PM

maintaining world peace???

Sheesh, Iraq wasn't behind 9/11, & didn't have WMDs. Sure, Saddam was a monster, but it was the US who broke the peace in Iraq with shock-&-awe ("mission accomplished") followed by 5 years of occupation so far.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:07 PM

"OK, compare the cost of maintaining world peace..."

Maintaining world peace? Are you kidding?!! You mean destabilizing the Middle East, right, or precipitating a civil war, right? Characterizing our involvement in Iraq as maintaining world peace is simply laughable.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 3:10 PM

Assuming the average federal employee has two kids (some have more, some fewer, others none at all), that's roughly $20,000 per employee in today's dollars over a career that could last 40 years. In other words, it amortizes out to only about $500 per year of employement. That's a lot less money than some other job benefits.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:16 PM

to anon@11:44: ""My point is that it's in our best interests as a society to take care of the next generation. Because, as Andrea points out in her 8:58 post, those kids will be taking care of us in our dotage."

What does that have to do with paid maternity/paternity leave? You didn't make your point in 8+ paragraph novella."

Do... the....math

2 + 2 = ???

"it's in our best interests as a society to take care of the next generation" +
"paid maternity/paternity leave?" = ???

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 18, 2008 3:18 PM

to annon at 2:53 PM

it does not pay to get married. It's financially advantageous to live in sin.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:21 PM

It's financially advantageous to live in sin.

But it's not morally advantageous.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:24 PM

Wow. I didn't realize how lucky I had it! I live in Canada and the government funds what is in essence a 52 week partially paid parental leave (which can be taken by mom or dad). All working citizens contribute to the Federal Employment Insurance plan, and part of that plan is Parental Leave. When someone has (or adopts) a baby, the government will pay up to 55% of their salary for 52 weeks after having a baby. Some employers, including the federal and provincial governments, will top-up your benefits so you actually receive your full salary for the year. And parents can split the year - mom can stay home for 6 months, dad can stay home for 6 months. The only disadvantage of the system right now is that it doesn't apply to contract workers or those who are self employed - you need to be an "employee".

Posted by: Lindsay | April 18, 2008 3:26 PM

If this additional paid leave is approved, what is the cost? Higher taxes? Less services?

"that's roughly $20,000 per employee in today's dollars over a career that could last 40 years. In other words, it amortizes out to only about $500 per year of employement"

It's 10,000 per year of employment for those who resign when the baby is born.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:27 PM

It's 10,000 per year of employment for those who resign when the baby is born.

How many do that? Where are your statistics?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:31 PM

"It's 10,000 per year of employment for those who resign when the baby is born."

Not necessarily -- This is only true for employers who only worked 1 year before they had the baby. What about people who work for several years before the baby is born? It may not amortize to 500 dollars a year, but certainly, depending on the length of service, it can amortize to a lot less than 10K a year.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 3:32 PM

There are some very, very selfish attitudes on this Board today. "I didn't get it so no one else should?" Geez folks. Take a hard look at yourselves. You should be ashamed.

Posted by: Wow! | April 18, 2008 3:33 PM

I find it very surprising that no one has brought up the aspect of mothers who don't work in jobs where leave is an option such as the pink collar mothers. 4 weeks of paid leave would be greatly appreciated by them. The feds may have a generous leave program already, but they starting with them may result in a trickle down effect to the rest of us workers. I don't have children yet, but I hope to have enough leave time in place to care for them. I also hope employers and politicans will have become enlightened by that time and get in line with other western governments. We'll see.

Posted by: FloridaChick | April 18, 2008 3:37 PM

I think Uncle Sugar should write out a check for $10,000 to any woman that pops one out. $15,000 if she pops out twins. Kinda like Buy 1 future taxpayer, get the 2nd for half price.

Posted by: Porky Popbutton | April 18, 2008 3:46 PM

"Interesting moral compass."

I think Uncle Sugar should write out a check for $10,000 to the bozo who keeps submitting "Interesting moral compass" each day as if it's both a coherent and original thought.

Posted by: Wowza. | April 18, 2008 3:52 PM

Childfree here - and as much as I try to smile and congratulate people having children, I will never be given a concentrated block of time off, even if it is to take care of the next generation. Yes, I do resent it. I even wrote a guest blog about in Amy Joyce's column, when I was trying to work on my dissertation. I resent having to stay late because someone has a kid's ballgame/recital/teacher conference. I'm not a saint.

Posted by: babsy1 | April 18, 2008 3:53 PM

I will never be given a concentrated block of time off, even if it is to take care of the next generation.

What about for caring for the previous generation (ailing parents)?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:54 PM

Please. "Interesting moral compass" is a short-hand response indicating that the other person was being morally inconsistent, to put it mildly.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:56 PM

"Interesting moral compass"

Would you prefer "bleeping hypocrite"?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:57 PM

"I think Uncle Sugar should write out a check for $10,000 to any woman that pops one out. $15,000 if she pops out twins. Kinda like Buy 1 future taxpayer, get the 2nd for half price."

But there is no way to know if any of these kids will amount to anything or wind up as messed up druggie nymphos or criminals.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 3:58 PM

"I think Uncle Sugar should write out a check for $10,000 to the bozo who keeps submitting "Interesting moral compass" each day as if it's both a coherent and original thought."

It's more than one bozo....

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:01 PM

Interesting moral compass.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:03 PM

wind up as messed up druggie nymphos or criminals

Just your type, huh? No doubt you're hoping.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:04 PM

"will never be given a concentrated block of time off, even if it is to take care of the next generation."

Don't be jealous, Babsy1 - maternity leave is not a walk in the park, and I would hardly consider it "time off" even it it is time away from work. Having just had a baby in December, I can attest to feeling much more rested now that I am back at work. Those first few weeks after a baby is born are hard! But if you think that sleep deprivation, on-demand nursing, and a post-partum body (take your choice -- pouchy stomach, episiotomy, C-section incision and related pain, mild incontinence, engorged breasts, extra weight, leaking breasts, constipation, raging hormones, etc) are something to covet, then you are a better person than I am.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 4:07 PM

"Interesting moral compass."

Quite uninteresting, actually.

Posted by: m2j5c2 | April 18, 2008 4:08 PM

"Would you prefer "bleeping hypocrite"?"

Yes. I like that better.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 4:08 PM

"Bleeping hypocrisy" is so much more interesting, m2j5c2!

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:11 PM

Emily

But if you think that sleep deprivation, on-demand nursing, and a post-partum body "(take your choice -- pouchy stomach, episiotomy, C-section incision and related pain, mild incontinence, engorged breasts, extra weight, leaking breasts, constipation, raging hormones, etc) are something to covet, then you are a better person than I am. "

Yuck, a pretty good argument for only children.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:11 PM

I was just in the Gene Pool. Did anyone see that Barack might have given Hillary the finger (a la Seinfeld's waitress style?) Pretty funny.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 4:11 PM

Emily, even though it has been a quarter of a century since I was pregnant and had my kids (both C-sections, but that isn't the point) I have to say that your description of the items to "covet" in the postpartum period has me choking with laughter. You nailed it, sister! Fun times, fun times....

Posted by: Lynne | April 18, 2008 4:13 PM

Speaking of giving the finger, does anyone else remember how TV weatherman Louie Allen always used to point at the map with his middle finger?

Posted by: Old timer | April 18, 2008 4:18 PM

Yuck, a pretty good argument for only children.

Actually, I thought it was a sterling argument for NO children at all.

Because the hits keep coming. The stretch marks that never vanish. The chance of peeing your pants when you sneeze. More wrinkles and bags under your eyes (particularly when those wee bitty babies become teenagers). Stress = grey hairs. Ever wonder parents look like mules before their childless friends?

Less money available for retirement savings because kids cost and cost and cost, and then you pay money to send them AWAY to college (to a greater or lesser degree).

Sigh.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 4:20 PM

Speaking of giving the finger, does anyone else remember how TV weatherman Louie Allen always used to point at the map with his middle finger?

-------------------------------------------

Yes! I thought it was hilarious, but wondered if anyone else noticed!

Posted by: Lynne | April 18, 2008 4:23 PM

"Because the hits keep coming. The stretch marks that never vanish...."

Yes, but it's worth it. Sometimes, I am up at 3 am, wondering how I am going to get through the next day, and then she smiles at me. And I am managing to get through the next day. So what if I have a sagging stomach and leaky breasts. I also have a lot to show for it.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 4:43 PM

Please. "Interesting moral compass" is a short-hand response indicating that the other person was being morally inconsistent, to put it mildly.

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 3:56 PM

"Interesting moral compass"

Would you prefer "bleeping hypocrite"?

Posted by: | April 18, 2008 3:57 PM

Communication in the English language generally is easiest when one uses the structure of the sentence. That is, if you intend to persuade others to agree with your argument.

The appropriate response to the mind-numbingly repetitive, "interesting moral compass" is: "incoherent sentence fragment".

To the point you might learn to make if you only embraced grammar instead of eschewing it, since when is "hypocrite" an appropriate term to toss at someone whose moral judgments you disdain? So long as the speaker's moral judgments are consistent with what she espouses, where's the hypocrisy?

Perhaps you need to save your money for a dictionary to go with your grammar workbook.

Posted by: Uncle Sugar's cousin | April 18, 2008 5:03 PM

"Or letting them bring infants under six months to work?"


Bleeping infants crying in the office all day long. Oh, yeah. That's the answer all right.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 5:27 PM

"Interesting moral compass" as a euphemism for hypocrite simply points out the inconsistency of the comment prompting it.

In a casual communication environment like a blog, sentence fragments are acceptable. Nothing incoherent about it. Oops, I mean, there's nothing incoherent about it.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 5:30 PM

Communication in the English language generally is easiest when one uses the structure of the sentence. That is, if you intend to persuade others to agree with your argument.

Oh, get the cob out of where the sun doesn't shine in your anatomy, pretentious prig.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 5:32 PM

Communication in the English language generally is easiest when one uses the structure of the sentence. That is, if you intend to persuade others to agree with your argument.

To paraphrase Churchill, this an offense "up with which you will not put," right?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 5:35 PM

Did anyone else notice that the response "incoherent sentence fragment" is itself an incoherent sentence fragment. Pot, meet kettle.

Posted by: Hmm | April 18, 2008 5:43 PM

Leslie,
So there you have it. People saying they're not contributing to this blog in order to "persuade others to agree with your argument", and in fact, calling people "prigs" if they do! I find it difficult, at best, to learn balancing life/work when people blog just because "they can", rather than because they have something to contribute to the conversation.

Respectfully yours....

p.s. have a great weekend.

Posted by: dotted | April 18, 2008 6:18 PM

I find it difficult, at best, to learn balancing life/work when people don't write in complete sentences.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 6:27 PM

Just my two cents. I find it quite easy to ignore most of the silly nastiness that comes along, and I did not think today was too bad. Yes, people get snarky sometimes. As Cheney likes to say--so?

But it might be hard to draw that line which we seem to have stepped over a few months ago, when people were not just hateful, but actually scary at times. How do you draw that line? I like enough snark and opinion to make this blog interesting, without going over to the dark side of the blog, where it just becomes scary.

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 6:28 PM

"I find it difficult, at best, to learn balancing life/work when people don't write in complete sentences."

So?


:)

Posted by: Emily | April 18, 2008 6:29 PM

"But it might be hard to draw that line which we seem to have stepped over..."

"But it might be hard to draw that line over which we seem to have stepped..."

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 6:32 PM

Wow Leslie, it's been a while since you whined about this topic. Wonder how long it will be before it comes around again.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 18, 2008 8:10 PM

Man, I'm sorry I didn't see this discussion earlier in the day - would have loved to toss fuel on the fire with this tidbit: elite law firms are moving to a market standard of 18 weeks paid maternity leave. Taste it!

Posted by: aw yeah | April 19, 2008 2:50 AM

I haven't read the other comments. But my initial reaction is although 8 weeks would be good, 4 paid weeks is still more than we (fed employees) have had before. It doesn't mean new mothers will go back to work at 4 weeks post delivery any more than they do now. If women are taking 12 weeks unpaid under FMLA, at least this would pay them for some of it. Unfortunately we can't always have what we want when we want it. So we want 8 weeks (or more really) but maybe we have to start with 4 and work for more later. Phase it in.

Posted by: Rockville Mom | April 19, 2008 9:14 PM

elite law firms are moving to a market standard of 18 weeks paid maternity leave.

Link to your sources, please.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 19, 2008 10:12 PM

The Federal Government absolutely should offer paid maternity leave. While yes, our leave packages aren't bad, it takes a while to accrue. That means if you have a child early in your federal career or while fairly young (and when biologically your body is most prepared to handle pregnancy/childbirth with statistically less complications) then you probably do not have enough leave accrued to take paid maternity leave.
If you can scrape together a couple months of leave, then you return to work with zero sick leave. Say your baby is in daycare and gets sick - what do you do? Give him a shot of baby Tylenol before dropping him off and hope daycare doesn't call you to pick him up early (while spending the day in your cubicle guilt-ridden and worried about him). What if you catch whatever illness your baby has? Of course you load up on Asprin and drag your contagious self into work and spread it to all your coworkers to avoid using sick leave you don't have. I know, I've had to do it. After 3 years of federal service (and trying not to use too much leave) I was able to take 2 months of accrued sick and vacation leave when my first baby was born but went back to work with no leave at the beginning of cold&flu season.
And no, LWOP (Leave Without Pay) is not financially reasonable for early-career feds facing daycare/nanny bills higher than mortgages.

Posted by: FedMomof2 | April 20, 2008 9:26 PM

I'm a stay at home Dad and my wife goes to work. It used to be the other way around but she really enjoys her work and wanted to carry on (she's a police officer) after she had our first child. I found this system that enabled her to go back to work while I stay at home, I was the higher earner so it wasn't viable for a while. I still work though, using MLM maketing. The site I used was http://MLMMoolah.MyWorldResults.com (copy and paste this link into your browser)and we have a very happy, financially comfortable life now. I emplore stay at home Mums and Dad's to check it out.

Posted by: Laurence | April 21, 2008 5:45 AM

Table of firms' maternity leave policies:
http://associatepirate.com/2008/02/21/maternity-leave-part-deux/

The table gets updated frequently. This is a time of flux, where more and more are adopting the 18 week standard.

For a sampling of announcement memos, scan through the perks/fringe benefits category of Above the Law: http://abovethelaw.com/perks_fringe_benefits/

Posted by: aw yeah | April 22, 2008 11:36 PM

I love it when people without children, say it is a "choice" and you should have planned on having a child. Not all children are planned. I was told that I was infertile (due to endometreosis) and my husband and I decided if that was what nature intended we were okay being childless. However, almost 7 years into our marriage, I became pregnant, needless to say it was a surprise. We were happy but not ready. At the time, I had just become a Federal employee 6 months, and then I had a very complicated pregnancy. Needless to say I had no leave. Also Federal Government does not offer short term disability (although I think that changed as of this month)I believe private and government sectors should have at least 8 weeks worth of maternity leave. It is not a vacation, and for the people who think it is, should have to watch a newborn for a week 24/7 just like a parent. Most parents want to return to work because staying at home is much harder work.It would probably be safer for all due to brain fog and overall recovering. Maternity leave should be a given and not thought of as a luxury. Europe had adopted maternity leave a long time ago. If we did not have children, then our existence would cease. Don't penalize the people who have children. For those (childless) that state that they should be given the leave too, to use at their will, then I believe you should have to use that time working 24/7 at a elder-care facility or daycare, so that you use the time like we (parents) do too. It is not "free" time to sip mai tai's and relax, it is very hard work. The paychecks of Federal Employees is usually lower than what you would find in the private sector, so if maternity leave is an offered benefit it would be very useful for recruitment purposes. I can understand that their should be a limit on how much maternity leave you are given, for instance you can only use it once every two or three years with a maximum benefit of 24 weeks - something along those lines.

Posted by: Stacy | April 29, 2008 10:32 PM

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