Maternity Leave Gimme

by admin on May 28, 2012

I work at a large state university which gives very generous leave allowances (at least by US standards). It is common when someone is very sick that someone will send out a blast over the old university list-serve (optional, by request subscription, not compulsory) which asks on behalf of the sick person for leave donations so the person does not lose pay. People often exceed their vacation leave accrual and it slushes over into their sick leave, and so many people have plenty to share. There was recently one for a cancer patient, sent out by a friend requesting donations. This is not uncommon and people are usually happy to give. In that particular case, the friend had to actually send out another email that asked us to stop responding with donations, they already had plenty.

Yesterday, however, I received this Gimmee email along with 700+ potential victims:

Hello all,

I am going on maternity leave soon, June 8th. I was hoping to be able to take the whole 12 weeks that is available to me through FMLA because we will have to put our baby in day care when I go back to work . Unfortunately I only have 8 weeks’ worth of sick & annual leave because I have been working at the university for a short period of time. I joined the sick leave pool as well, but I cannot use the time from the pool for 6 months since I am new to it. My husband and I do not have family in Tampa which is why we have to use daycare.

Even if it is just one hour, any sick leave donations would be greatly appreciated. All that needs to be done is to e-mail my HR Coordinator XXXXXXXXXX at XXXX@XXXXX.edu how many hours you would like to donate and CC your immediate supervisor.

Also, if you have any daycare recommendations in the University area that would be great!

Thank you so much,

XXXXXXXXX

Am I wrong to think this is a bit entitled to ask for your own sick leave donation? Not to mention I have never ever had anyone ask me (verbally or via email) to donate sick leave to any mothers which I actually do know in my department. I just feel like this is akin to someone asking for monetary donations because they’re having a baby or throwing their own baby shower. 0524-12

Fundamentally this is arranging charitable giving from others to oneself.   Which is begging.  There should be a social stigma placed on public begging for one’s own benefit so that true charity is reserved for those truly deserving of it at the instigation of others.

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Bint May 28, 2012 at 5:47 am

I’m confused by this. Why is it ok for a friend to ask people to donate their sick leave to someone ill, but not ok for someone else to use the exact same mechanism for maternity leave? Surely the first one is also begging? Surely both are for a good cause?

This is not something that can be done in my country, so I’m not sure I even understand this, but if I were happy to donate sick leave to a cancer sufferer, I wouldn’t mind donating to let someone spend more time with her new baby. I do think there’s a difference between straight begging and asking for help.

I just don’t see the big difference between these two, particularly since they’re both so easy to ignore if you don’t want to donate.

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admin May 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

Bint, The difference is who is doing the asking. Others taking the initiative to gather support for a friend, co-worker, neighbor –OK. Taking it upon yourself to seek charity for oneself – not OK.

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MellowedOne May 28, 2012 at 7:50 am

I agree with admin, solicitating for one’s own benefit is akin to begging. As a side note, I’m thinking that the employee, being new, has not ‘caught on’ to the way things are done at the university. Perhaps she’s new enough to see other requests come through, but not there long enough to see the pattern that a. they are never solicited on behalf of self, and b. they are never solicited for maternity leave. While ‘a’ should be an etiquette given, one would be amazed at those who, not out of entitlement, but pure lack of knowledge, are not aware of this.

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Cherry May 28, 2012 at 9:00 am

I have two problems with this.

The first is the one mentioned in the post, about how begging for donations is tacky.

The other is comparing pregnancy to serious illnesses, such as the cancer sufferer mentioned in the post. You (usually) make the choice to get pregnant, whereas no one ever chooses to have cancer. I almost feel like it’s making light of the people with serious illnesses.

I will however add that the sick leave donations idea is the nicest thing I’ve heard in ages. It’d be wonderful if more companies followed this university’s leave.

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Bint May 28, 2012 at 9:15 am

Admin, I would understand that normally, but this is just a university email scheme. I work at a university that has one exactly the same. Also, to me this is indeed charity, as you yourself acknowledge. There is nothing wrong in asking for *charity* for oneself. The question is does this constitute charity, and I think in this case, it does.

She isn’t asking for money, or presents, or things for her baby – those would be begging. She is just asking if anyone has any spare leave so she could have more time with her baby. The fact she has been at her job a short time but is pregnant might easily mean she’d been made redundant, for example. Perhaps her pregnancy was unplanned at a bad time. Perhaps she’s going to have a financial nightmare trying to pay for daycare and is desperate to offset it.

Maybe this is slightly cheeky, but to call it a ‘gimme’ is harsh and comes with a lot of assumptions no more likely than mine. She may just be clueless.

Your reply also implies that the cancer sufferer should not ask on their own behalf either – taking it upon themselves to seek charity is not ok? Really? When they have cancer? I just cannot agree with that at all. Nobody should be afraid to seek charity. I repeat, asking for charity and begging are *not* the same thing.

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Stella May 28, 2012 at 9:24 am

There’s also a chance the person knows that what she’s doing is a little shameful, but doesn’t really see an option.

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Jared Bascomb May 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

I agree with MellowedOne, and in addition would suggest that if this employee is very new to the company, she may not have any close co-workers who are aware of her situation and could promote her need for leave time.

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Enna May 28, 2012 at 10:02 am

Haven’t heard of this set up before of donating leave. I think the big difference is what Admin said, it’s who is doing the asking. It also depends on who it is. E.g. if someone is ill and needs to be taken home and asks for help could because they are too ill to drive/take public transport then that’s different.

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Cat May 28, 2012 at 10:14 am

Our problem at my job was even worse than this. People would take every sick and vacation they had when it became available. When some true emergency or illness came along, they would ask other people to “donate” since they had no days of their own. That, to me, was the height of piggishness. They wanted to have their own days and mine as well.

I can understand wanting to stay home with a new infant, but it is a choice. Mom would like to stay home for an extra month. Baby isn’t ill or having major physical problems, Mom is just new to the job and only has eight weeks of leave coming. What about husband taking a month off his job to stay home and bond?

A cancer patient hasn’t many choices. You get the treatment or you die. The cancer patient didn’t ask for him/herself. A friend made the request. There’s a difference between what I would like to do and what I must do. If you’ve ever been through radiation or chemo, you know the cancer patient would take work over treatment if the choice was there.

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ElBandito May 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

Yeah, I’m not sure if I’m qualified or even right about what I’m about to say…
personally, I can understand when a person gets sick and asks for someone to give them an extended time to recover. To me it makes sense, because you can’t expect when you might get hit with a flu virus or even cancer. I would surmise that it might be different for someone to ask maternity leave–there are ways to prevent an unplanned pregnancy–but THEN AGAIN, accidents happen, and she’s trying to figure out how to better raise and prepare the kid before she gets back to her 9-5 grind. 8 weeks is rather little, especially when the kid will be too young to go to daycare (when do kids start lifting their heads up? 4 months?).
Plus there’s no knowing if there’ll be complications from the pregnancy/birth which might force this woman to stay abed or in hospital–or even commit to 24/hour surveillance for her newborn. So it seems understandable to me.
Plus since she’s new, she probably doesn’t know anyone well enough to give them the responsibility to ask for her. *shrugs* I dunno, it’s just how I’m seeing it.

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Cupcake May 28, 2012 at 10:33 am

The differences between the cancer example and this maternity leave are that
a) in the first situation somebody else is asking on behalf of the person who needs the leave (it’s like the difference between a friend organising a bridal shower for you, and throwing one for yourself), and
b) in my opinion, the circumstances themselves are quite different, because a seriously ill person doesn’t decide to get sick, and can’t be expected to arrange for sick leave beforehand. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids, I support parents and I would probably donate my leave to an expecting coworker, but I think that’s more a friendly act than a charitable one.

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Caterlaw May 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

While I agree that, under normal circumstances, one should not be soliciting “donations” for one’s own maternity leave, is it possible that the co-worker had no other choice? She’s admittedly new to the area. Maybe she isn’t fortunate enough to have a friend who could do the asking.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 28, 2012 at 11:02 am

I can understand why someone would want to spend more time with her baby before returning to work. Why she would think this trumps the leave needs or desires of others is what puzzles me. She has a family concern, not a health concern that ranks as life or death (as in cancer or other catastrophic illness). I suppose that generosity doesn’t always beget gratitude. Sometimes it begets the expectation of more…and more….and more. The mom to be has a leave in place of eight weeks. If she wanted more, perhaps she could ‘buy back” some optional hours? Not sure if this is possible in her situation, but it would enable her to have some control over how long she is home. Even the policy of allowing others to “donate” leave is a gracious one on the University’s part. Certainly the leave donators aren’t going to teach the classes or fill the vital function of the one who is out and ill. In allowing that “donation” for exceptional cases such as the one cited for cancer, they are in fact being model employers, in my estimation. An instance of generosity doesn’t obligate the University or its employees to support the aspirations of the deserving but less desperate to enjoy longer time at home (as in the case of a soon to be mom).

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B May 28, 2012 at 11:25 am

This one doesn’t bother me. She is asking people to donate something they otherwise couldn’t use. She isn’t asking for money out of their pockets. Additionally, it requires only a modicum of effort to email HR if one wishes to donate. I would describe this as asking for a small favor.

Perhaps the university would be well served by setting up a formal system for donating leave. My company does this and we get emails from HR regularly saying so and so has a medical emergency and has insufficient leave. These messages are easily ignored if one isn’t interested.

Also, what’s the alternative for this woman who is new to the university and perhaps doesn’t have a close friend to think of doing the asking on her behalf? Is she supposed to corner a colleague and ask him or her to do the soliciting and organizing for her? That strikes me as being more imposing than sending the original email.

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b-rock May 28, 2012 at 11:26 am

Sorry, I definitely see a difference between asking people to donate to your own maternity leave and asking people to donate to someone else’s unplanned and unforeseen leave for cancer treatment. Not that every pregnancy is planned, but even if it’s not you have several months to prepare for it. I will be out for 16 weeks of maternity leave this fall, and I will not get paid for even half of that. I would jump off a bridge before I asked my peers to somehow fund my leave for me.

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AnyMouse May 28, 2012 at 11:31 am

Interesting.

I also work for a large state university and we have a shared leave pool. But it is heavily regulated so this kind of soliciting doesn’t happen. This email begging would never work (nor is it even allowed).

At our university, a month before your earned vacation hours are set to expire, employees can donate what they wish to the shared leave program. The donated paid leave is then all put together in one big pool and there is a board of volunteer faculty, staff and administrat0rs who dole out the hours to applicants. The applicants can be self or third party nominated, but must fill out the paperwork themselves. As long as the shared leave program has been around, hours have ALWAYS gone to people who have exhausted their earned sick and vacation time because of some sort of severe life threatening or debilitating illness that made it temporarily impossible for them to work at all. Unfortunately, every year, there are more applicants than there are hours to go around.

From my perspective, asking for donated paid time for something like routine maternity leave is extremely selfish and short sighted. It’s something that isn’t even eligible for the shared leave at my university.

I hope the university mailing list OP speaks of doesn’t include any people with serious illnesses who are truly in need of little extra help.

There is a huge difference, as admin says, between asking for help for yourself and asking for someone else. But I think there is an even bigger difference between asking for help that you **need** and asking for help that you just **want.**

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whatever May 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

i agree that it would have been better to get someone else to ask, and by that i mean she could have gone to her HR person and asked for advice on possibilities to extend her maternity leave a bit, and HR could have offered to get the mail out.

on the other hand, i think putting the child in day care at only a few weeks age is just cruel. a small child needs their mummy more than anything. i’m a mother of a 2 year old, and for the first half year of his life i’ve never left his side for more than 2-3 hours at once (i was nursing exclusively). thankfully i live in a country where you can leave your job for two full years when you get a child and the workplace has to give you your former job back when you return, plus the state pays you good money during that time.

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Carol May 28, 2012 at 1:52 pm

It sounds to me like the letter writer didn’t quite get the proper etiquitte for this situation. I agree it is awkard for her to ask on her own behalf, but perhaps she felt it was wrong to try to foist the obligation on someone else, especially since she’s obviously new to the company.

I think she has every right to take advantage of that program, and I don’t blame her for wanting to keep her baby out of daycare. It’s too bad a co-worker didn’t realise her situation and make the request for her, because it certainly would come across better to everyone else.

It also sucks that people have to beg for time off to be with their family, but such is the world we live in.

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Roo May 28, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I’m going to disagree, even though I understand why others find it offensive, because the lack of maternity leave in the U.S. is such a sick joke. If she were begging for vacation time, sure, fire away, but why does her newborn need her a few weeks less than other people’s do just because she hasn’t been working there as long? What if she has a complication, a difficult birth, or a sick baby and she’s spending those weeks recovering; is it less distasteful then? I agree that soliciting help comes off better from a friend, but if she’s so new that she doesn’t have the leave she needs, she may not have a good friend at work yet. So what? If no one helps, that doesn’t make her any less pregnant and in need of leave. Etiquette shouldn’t get in the way of common sense.

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Kaypeep May 28, 2012 at 2:19 pm

I think the difference is that illness is not planned, and there are fewer programs in place to protect people who suffer a catastrophic illness. Parents have FMLA which allows them time off (albeit not paid) and their job is protected. They can plan in advance how to manage that time, too, unlike an illness. I’m assuming this woman planned getting pregnant and thus should have planned for her leave time as well. I think asking others to pay for you to stay home when you’re home due to your own doing is just plain entitlement behavior.

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Ann May 28, 2012 at 3:22 pm

One hopes that someone donates a book about teaching etiquette to kiddies to the expectant mother.

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kingsrings May 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Not only that, but it shows a lack of planning and responsibility on the part of the mother-to-be. She didn’t just wake up pregnant one day, after all ; )
There’s a huge difference between someone being struck with an illness (or their family member being struck with one) and someone whose medical leave is a result of their own doing, such as family planning. And I’m sorry, but there are a lot worse things out there than having to leave one’s baby in daycare. It’s not a desired thing, but not serious enough to request the leave of others to fulfill personal wants that aren’t needs.

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TylerBelle May 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm

I can see how one shouldn’t be asking for him or herself, and it can be seen as begging, selfishness, entitlement, etc. Although I do wonder what if the need is great for a person, but no one steps up to initiate donations, or the like.

Then on the other hand, (and probably answering my own question) usually when folks see a person for themselves who is in need, have a tendency to give without the prompting.

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!!!

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Jenny May 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I agree with the admin. I also think it’s a different situation. The person who has cancer really can’t go back to work – the other person would just have to put her kid in daycare earlier. Yes, I know kids are important, but there’s a big difference between physically can’t go to work and wants to delay day care a couple weeks.

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Earl H. May 28, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I also would like to point out that cancer is something horrible that happens to a person, not something they planned and hoped for and deliberately sought out, like a pregnancy. If you decide to have a baby you should do some planning and budgeting, you’ve got at least 9 months to put your plan together.

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Lisa May 28, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Bint:
Cancer is something you GET, pregnancy (provided you have no fertility-problems) is something you CHOOSE. Why should other people ‘pay’ for your baby? I see endless babyshowers in this couple’s future as well. To compare cancer with pregnancy is just ridiculous, and an insult for people who have lost someone to it. I would GLADLY give up days for a cancerpatient, not so much for someone’s brat-to-be.

My question: Is sending out a mass email in response, telling the lady how inappropiate she is, a breach of etiquette too? How will she learn is no one tells her?

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SJ May 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

And, while there are varying circumstances, generally illness is an unwanted surprise, and oftentimes motherhood is a planned venture.

The commander of my husband’s squadron said, “I don’t pay you to get pregnant, and I don’t pay you to get your wives pregnant.” Tough words, but the meaning is that you have to make sacrifices when you have a child, and you can’t expect others to make sacrifices for you.

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Margaret May 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm

I don’t think this is a very bad ettiquette breach. Asking for the hours for herself for maternity leave was beyond the norm at your work situation, but it is still within sight of normal operating procedures.

I had an extremely stressful experience as a first time mom (and some issues when I had my second child as well), so I have a lot of sympathy for the mom-to-be. She does not have family in the area, so she is going to have that much less support when the baby comes. An infant is considered a newborn until it is three months old. I can completely understand not wanting to put a newborn infant into daycare at 8 weeks old. I consider both the mom and the infant to be in a vulnerable, deserving group, so I do not think it is unreasonable for them to receive support. I am aware that there are people who will disagree and see it as entirely an individual choice and responsibility. I disagree.

If I understand the OP, the sick leave hours are unused by the people donating them and I’m assuming that they would not otherwise be paid out in lieu of use. If so, then I see it as similar to letting it be known that you require second hand baby clothes. Yes, she is asking for something for herself, but as far as I can tell, she is not asking for something that will cost other people money, she is contributing herself by using up her own maternity and sick leaves, and she is only asking for the hours that it would take to reach the 12 week leave that is the standard at your workplace.

I don’t consider this ettiquette hell worthy. Maybe ettiquette finishing school.

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Marna May 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I retired from Federal Civil Service and there was (at the time I retired) a program for donation of annual/sick leave to others for health reasons. The majority of the requests I saw came directly from the potential recipient. I don’t see anything wrong in that. My major objection to THIS particular request would be that this is NOT an emergency health issue. Pregnancy is an elective condition and the if she knew she didn’t have sufficient leave to handle the full amount of maternity leave, well, perhaps she should have timed it differently. I would donate (and have done so) leave to someone with an unexpected health crisis, but not in this situation.

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Angel May 28, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I always thought you got the full 12 weeks of maternity leave regardless of how long you’ve been working somewhere? It seems odd that she would only get 8? Maybe it varies from state to state?

Anyway, it’s pretty obnoxious to solicit donations on your own behalf. The difference between sick leave and maternity leave is pretty obvious, but I just can’t believe this woman has the nerve to ask people to pony up for something like that.

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Justin May 28, 2012 at 9:02 pm

At the places I have worked that allowed leave sharing asking for donations for yourself would be considered in extremely poor taste. Typically someone who has a personal as well as professional friendship with someone who is ill or taking an extended leave will keep in touch with them. When they find out through the friendship that a colleague is in need they will organize something without telling or involving the person who will receive the donation. In these cases it becomes a group of friends organizing a gift to help a friend, and since many people don’t use all of their sick leave in a year it is a gift of something they won’t need. Another trend is that people who donate to others in need tend to have the favor returned when they are in need, without explicitly asking.

In this case someone who is friends with the sender of the ‘begging’ email may want to let her know some of the company norms. I don’t see a problem with her request, I see a problem with the delivery.

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jess May 28, 2012 at 9:14 pm

But admin, what if you are not fortunate enough to have friends that care like that? What if no one even thought of helping on her behalf? I have been in that situation, (though I did not solicit help, I just struggled through it) I have seen others around me get offered help or donations when a baby comes along unexpectedly but when I was in that situation I seemed to become invisible. Not even my closest friends asked if I needed help and I desperately wanted someone to notice or ask if I was doing ok but no one ever did. I could not make myself break the etiquette code and point out how I had helped these people in many times of need but when I needed it they chose to be blind for convenience.
I know it isnt exactly the same as the OP but the same principle, if noone cares enough to help the person sometimes they are forced to ask themselves no matter how much the breech of etiquette shames them.

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admin May 28, 2012 at 11:02 pm

Jess, I’ve lived long enough to realize a simple truth, i.e. that the friends we have are often the friends we deserve. Become the kind of friend you want to have and then cultivate good friends.

I would disagree that babies “come along unexpectedly”. While the news of being pregnant can be unexpected, there are at least six months to prepare for the inevitable birth.

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Saucygirl May 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I understand why everyone is comparing maternity leave to cancer, as his is what the op talked about. However, it is not an either/or situation. The op said that an email had to go around asking people to stop offering their hours to the cancer patient as they had more than enough. So donating to the maternity time does not take anything away from the cancer patient, and honestly, I don’t think they should be compared. 99% of the time some one in your world (be they family or a coworker in a large university that you may not even know well) will have worse circumstances then you. Does that mean you are never allowed to ask for help?

Is she in the wrong/tacky for asking for the hour herself? Sure, but would yoalone as quick to condemn her if the cancer patient scenario hadn’t been mentioned?

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jess May 29, 2012 at 12:43 am

I would disagree that babies “come along unexpectedly”. While the news of being pregnant can be unexpected, there are at least six months to prepare for the inevitable birth.

Yes, I agree, though I must point out that no amount of planning can prevent how sick I got during my pregnancies. My babied spent their first week on intensive oxygen. After we went through it with my first we tried desperately not to have another baby- every contraceptive and even ‘intimacy’ was put off as much as possible. It still happened and I still got VERY sick as did my baby. It was not about finances or leave(I did not work) but more about general support and help with things like cooking or looking after my other son ect.
Like I said, it is not the same thing but the point is that DID help my friends whenever they needed it, I treated them like I would like to be treated but when I needed help they were blind to it.
I actually only have 1 good friend now, I lost all the rest when I was too sick to be of any use to them.

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Marna May 29, 2012 at 2:58 am

One aspect of this hasn’t been addressed. I don’t know how happy I would be were a friend/acquaintance/coworker to take it upon themself to broadcast any of my medical issues. Doesn’t anyone else feel this to be a wee bit presumptious?

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Ponytail May 29, 2012 at 3:30 am

To all those posters who said that perhaps the pregnant colleague doesn’t have a good enough friend to ask to send the email out on her behalf – if she hasn’t been there long enough to make a friend that can do this for her, she hasn’t been there long enough to ask a far bigger favour of her colleagues. Why is it OK to ask colleagues you’re not particularly friendly with to do you a huge favour (and it is a favour, even if it’s not directly monetary) but not OK to ask HR to send out the email on behalf of your request ?

I won’t get into the whole argument that 8 weeks is NOT long enough for maternity leave (it really, really isn’t), but on the other hand, she must have been pregnant when she joined the organisation (she said she hasn’t been in the sick pool for the required 6 months). While I think statutory maternity leave should be universal, I can’t see how it’s fair for an employer to cover a worker who was pregnant when she joined up.

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sv May 29, 2012 at 4:56 am

I’m torn on this one. No question that begging for your own benefit is tasteless and tacky, but I think perhaps the person involved does not understand the subtle ( or not so subtle) difference between what she is doing, and what has been done for others. She’ll probably understand it when she finds that few people will donate their hours to her cause.
As an aside, in my country MAT leave ( as it is called) is government sponsored for one full year, with the guarantee of your job when you return to work. I cannot imagine leaving my little baby at the tender age of 8 weeks – perhaps her request was driven by true desperation.

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Edhla May 29, 2012 at 5:18 am

I continue to have a low level disgust for people who expect others to fund their family planning. If you feel that you cannot afford to have a child, then don’t have one. This is the 21st century.

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o_gal May 29, 2012 at 7:01 am

I think there is another thing in this post which leads her into “gimme pig” status. She says “my husband and I do not have family in Tampa which is why we have to use daycare.” So if she did have family in the area, it appears that she expects they would provide the daycare for her (probably for free) when she returns to work.

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Jessica May 29, 2012 at 7:12 am

#32 – Do I, by your assertion: that we get the friends we deserve – understand that you either don’t believe work place bullying happens or that it is your opinion that bully victims always have themselves to blame?

I don’t quite understand your stance regarding that particular question because I have, in my day, befriended people who were shy and hard to get to know, only to find out that they were amazing friends. Good people who had been roughed up by bad experiences from previously and therefore reluctant to put themselves out there to make friends in the work place. There was nothing wrong with these people. They are good, caring and loyal people who had lost their social courage because of the unkind actions of others.

I must assume, since I was the only one to make the effort to befriend them, that had I not been there they would not have had friends and then – according to the above expressed logic – this was no more than they deserved and if they were in a bind, then it sucks to be them because had they only been better people they would have had friends?

There isn’t just a “nice” vs “not nice” divide when it comes to socializing there is also an “extrovert” vs “introvert” divide. I’m sorry but that sentiment just comes off as unfair to shy people.

Lisa: Why a mass e-mail? If you were in the business of “charitably” – and not at all being a busy body -teaching manners to someone, then surely a one to one is a better tool than public shaming? (At least, that is what behavioral psychologists tend to belive.) Public shaming only serves to satisfy our own sense of moral superiority. Personally, I would say that a mass e-mail would be verging on bullying.

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Chicalola May 29, 2012 at 7:17 am

FMLA is sometimes unpaid time off. You are allowed to take up to this amount of time…..but the company does not have to pay you for the time off. If you don’t have enough sick/annual time to cover it, you go without. I’m lucky that my employer offers long term disability, which covers up through the time my doctor releases me back to work. If I choose to take more time off, and I can’t cover it, I don’t get paid.

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Lychii May 29, 2012 at 7:21 am

I don’t see why this is such a big deal. If there’s a sick-leave sharing system in place, why should one dance around instead of asking directly? This is a workplace, after all, not a popularity contest.

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ferretrick May 29, 2012 at 7:28 am

@Angel: To be entitled to FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for one year before the requested leave, and put in at least 1250 hours, and it sounds like she’s only been there a short time.

Also, FMLA only protects your job, it is not paid time. So I think what she means is that she only has 8 weeks of paid time available, and can’t afford to take the additional 4 weeks she is entitled to unless someone donates paid time.

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The Elf May 29, 2012 at 7:36 am

This would irritate me. This is not cancer or surgery or recovery from an accident. Even with a cesarian, the woman in question could reasonably be back at work in the 8 weeks of leave she has. And if she needs additional leave to recover from complications from the birth, then she can put in for donated leave for that. This is basically asking me to give my sick leave so that she can be paid too stay home with her child an extra month. If it is that important to you, you’ll find a way to swing the 1 month with unpaid leave.

Nope. If I have use-it-or-lose-it sick leave, I’m saving it for the cancer patients and the like.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is begging when there is a leave donation system in place, and she is entitled to 12 weeks of family medical leave (unpaid), but I do think this is excessive.

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The Elf May 29, 2012 at 7:38 am

One other point: We have a donated leave system at our work too. Requests are made by HR on behalf of the sick person, and donations are anonymous.

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Jay May 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

And it’s not even “I had a lot of complications, so I’m stuck in the hospital for another week, please help,” or “The doctor ordered me to be on bedrest for the next month, please help.” It’s “I’m taking 8 weeks already, and we can avoid a few weeks of daycare if you donate time.” Blah.

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lkb May 29, 2012 at 8:30 am

Count me among those who thinks the requester was just too new at the job to realize how it’s done there and didn’t know anyone well enough to ask them to ask for her. Also, she may not have considered it as “charity” but more as, “it’s just how it’s done here.”

I’ve never heard of such a system until this post and I suppose if I saw similar requests and was expecting I would have done the same thing. I hope a colleague who saw the post would quietly take her aside and gently explain the gimme-pig problem. I guess I’m of the opinion that, “if it offends you that much, don’t give” (possibly with a kindly, privately given explanation of why not.)

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AMC May 29, 2012 at 8:38 am

I had a baby four months ago. I worked hard to gather up comp hours leading up to my daughter’s birth, including working overtime and through lunches. And I still didn’t take a full 12 weeks off. It’s unfortunate that mothers in the US aren’t entitled to paid time off and that FMLA doesn’t allow for a longer leave, but that is the challenge faced by all working mothers in the US. Unless she has medical complications, this lady’s circumstances are nothing special. In her defense though, it sounds like an environment has been created where soliciting donations for someone on leave is acceptable. Granted, there’s a difference between asking for yourself and asking on someone else’s behalf, but as this lady hasn’t been with the company very long, perhaps she hasn’t yet grasped the difference. It would probably be a good idea for her supervisor to quietly and gently let her know why her request is inappropriate.

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CH May 29, 2012 at 9:15 am

It sounds like her employer is quite generous if she has only been there a short time and already has 8 weeks of paid leave. I have been with my employer 2 years and only get 16 days a year (vacation/sick combined) which cannot be carried over to the next calendar year. If I get very sick, there is short-term disability but that of course is not for maternity leave (doesn’t matter to me since I’m beyond the baby years). So she is luckier than many that she will have 8 weeks paid at home. And because of the FMLA, she can take the extra 4 weeks; she just won’t be paid for it–but she also won’t be paying for daycare, which is not inexpensive. I’d say it is a family decision between her and her husband if she wants to take the extra time, but not a requirement for the community to pay for it.

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LonelyHound May 29, 2012 at 9:33 am

I do believe that the mother-to-be is being a complete gimme pig. First off she is asking for people’s sick leave. In most places of employ, at least that I have heard of, you can pay out a certain amount of sick leave. My parents both get sick leave paid out and save some of their sick leave so they can afford something like paying extra on their mortgage or car. So, to me, she is asking for money. The other thing that really gets me is that she is asking for people’s sick leave so she can take PAID maternity leave. I do not know about the HR policies at this place of employ but usually employers allow 6 weeks on top of any sick/vacation time you are going to take. This is uaually strictly maternity leave and is outside FMLA. If this place of employ has a 6 week unpaid maternity leave policy then she has 8 weeks paid and 6 weeks unpaid, giving her a total of 14 weeks. I know it is unpaid, but then that begs the question is taking care of your child more important than getting paid?

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Magicdomino May 29, 2012 at 10:16 am

The U.S. federal government has a shared leave program, administered by agency HR divisions. If a person needs additional sick leave, a request must be accompanied by a letter from the employee’s doctor stating how long the person will be out of the office. Maternity leave can be requested; however, here too, the employee must have something from her doctor, and avoiding daycare is not considered sufficient excuse by itself. After the leave request is approved, HR sends out an agency-wide email. Employees are not allowed to send requests themselves.

A couple of years ago, we had a case of someone trying to take advantage of the leave bank program. She was a contractor, who became a federal employee after she became pregnant. Her husband was also a federal employee, with lots of friends in a career where they enjoy their jobs so much that they often have excess annual leave at the end of the year. When HR sent out the announcement in late November, the donations came rolling in, enough for her to take off for 4 or 5 months. However, because the baby was healthy, and the mother recovered normally, the doctor’s excuse was for only 8 weeks, and that was all the paid leave that the mother could take. Any additional had to be leave without pay.

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