When I sat down to write a piece about parental right in the workplace, I figured it would be at least relatively easy. Of course, the United States is one of the worst places in the industrialized world to be a working parent so I planned some extra time to research this topic. Imagine my dismay when I found that there are virtually no rights or protections for working parents on a national level.
I say “virtually no” because the United States does have the Family & Medical Leave Act that was signed into law in 1993 does protect those who need to leave work to care for their families from losing their jobs for 12 weeks. Whoo-de-friggin-do. That’s right, parents and other family caretakers who need to leave work to care for their families or have a baby and who are employed by an employer who employs at least 50 people and have worked at least 1250 hours in the last year will not be fired for taking said leave.
That leave may be unpaid.
It doesn’t matter if you need more than 12 weeks.
That is what you get.
Thankfully, you can still ask for (and get) things that aren’t guaranteed by federal law that will make your life as a working parent about a million times easier (that’s quantifiable, I promise, haha).
- First, see if parental status is a protected class in your state. If it is, your employer making a statement like “There is no way you can be a good mother while achieving what I aspire” means that you have a really solid discrimination lawsuit on your hands.
- Second, do what you can to negotiate for flexible working hours. Be open and candid with your boss about your needs.
- Third, negotiate (or renegotiate) your PTO package with your employer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone in to work sick because I had to save my sick time for my kids.
What are some things you’ve negotiated that have made your life as a working parent better?