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November 29, 2008



God, that sucks. I can't think of anything more eloquent to say than that.


I so, so, so hear you. I work in the public sector, too, and really like my job. I actually have great benefits and a great leave policy, but I suffer from other problems. So, take the following assvice from someone who is currently bitter, jaded and disenfranchised: The thing I'm slowly learning is that I'm not as irreplaceable as I thought I was, and that the job matters to me more than I matter to it. Which is another way of saying, figure out what you personally want, and go for it. No one at the office is ever going to thank you for the sacrifices you're thinking of making. You may, however, just thank yourself for figuring out a way to get what you want, even if you're fearful of the professional, emotional, and financial costs of what you want.

the Babychaser

Oooh, that really, really sucks. I work for the government, so I don't get paid leave either. But there are a lot of us, so when I'm out on maternity leave I'm not going to have to keep my office afloat.

I really do understand what you mean about being punished by your own leave. As a trial lawyer I found that taking a vacation almost wasn't worth it--the work was there when you got back anyway, and the time you had to put in to get extensions and make up for your leave was daunting. And forget about "half-time". If you're plugged into the office, and the only one handling the problems as they arise, it will suck up all your time.

I do have some advice, which you can totally ignore if you like. I think your boss needs to understand exactly how serious this is, and what kind of trouble his org could be in if he ignores your needs. Is there any way to document what you handle in any given week or month? Because I'm thinking that a firm approach (in writing) might be your best bet. I would give him a letter telling him how things ARE going to be and what you think he should do to keep his org from going to hell while it happens. Let him know:

(1) That you WILL NOT BE WORKING the first X number of weeks after your baby arrives. He cannot punish you for this or require you to work. FMLA was designed to protect you from the kind of pressure he's putting on you. You're bringing a brand new baby into your life, and you need time to bond (and, at the risk of being too pushy, I think you need more than 2 weeks of dedicated time). And I know you know this, but these first weeks with your child are going to be so much more important than anything in the outside world.

(2) That after that time you will only be working half-time, defined as 20 hours a week, no matter now serious the circumstances are.

(3) That you really care about the organization and its cause (after all, you gave up a sweet gig for this), and that you're very worried about the kind of legal trouble that the company could get in if he doesn't take steps to protect it while you're gone.

(4) If possible, give him a manageable solution. Call a legal temp agency and see what's possible and how much it would cost. Is there any way you can put together some sort of "how to handle X" or "who to call when X happens" handbook while you're waiting? Something that would help a legal temp survive in the month (just a suggestion) that you're totally out of pocket. Then, when you're half-time, maybe they could keep the temp on to carry out your instructions?

If you've already thought about this and I'm laying on the advice when all you needed to do is rant, ignore me. But I think you can do better for yourself AND your organization. They're giving you a raw deal, and you deserve (and are legally entitled) to better treatment.

Also, if things do go to hell while you're gone, you're on record as trying to warn them.

Good luck. If you find yourself going bonkers, remember this: you'll care less about your organization when you've got the baby in your arms.


"What it's telling me recently is probably supposed to be "you can't have it all," but what it sounds like in my head is "you can't have anything that is really important to you."

Ditto that.

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