Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back to work - part 1

I have about six weeks before I go back to work...and already I've been off since 7 July (16 weeks today).

In South Africa, an employee is entitled to at least four consecutive months’ maternity leave BUT the company doesn't have to pay you a cent. However, if you're a South African citizen, you can claim something like 45% of your salary from UIF. This amount is capped at about R12 000 or thereabouts.

I'm fuzzy on the % as this doesn't apply to me.

At my company, we get paid 100% of salary for the four months, as long as we've been working there for 13 months by the time you go off on maternity leave.

You with me so far?

So the twins.

I am quite bolshy so I asked them if I get double maternity leave since I'm having twins (!). Hey, it was worth a try. Of course, they said no.

In the beginning of the pregnancy, I was just talking nonsense as I usually do :) but actually I had a point in there somewhere because I hadn't realised how high-risk the pregnancy was.

I had the two bleeding incidents, the doctor told me to work half days from 28 weeks and of course, my waters broke very suddenly at 32 weeks.

I was reluctant to start working half days and going on early maternity leave because I didn't want the before-babies leave to eat into these precious 4 months, or 87 days as my company calls it on our e-leave system.

Saffy told me that in New Zealand, they get 12 months unpaid. 12 months!!!! And if they need to go off work from 28 weeks due to health reasons, it doesn't cut into the 12-month entitlement. How cool is that?

I wish we had that extra maternity sick leave too – maybe I could have kept them in longer if I’d stopped work properly at 28 weeks? I could feel at 30 weeks that I was DONE and really should have started proper maternity leave then but as I said if you take your leave early, you simply cut short your time with the baby(ies)/. It’s terrible.

Anyway, I have a fabulous boss. Seriously fabulous.

This pic was taken at my work baby shower and that's my boss in the middle, laughing with a mouth full of food :)

Other than my husband and then my friends from the infertility support group, he has been my biggest supporter through this whole crazy journey.

He knew every single thing about the whole IVF process. We have the kind of relationship where I could say to him "don't ask me anything; I'll tell you when I'm ready" and I would. This is when I was a bit teary at my desk....

So when I mentioned to other female colleagues that the doctor said I have to take things even easier, he overheard and immediately said, "well, from tomorrow, you'll be working half days".

Just like that; no fighting.

My plan was to take my 87 days (!) and then add on my 18 days annual leave and also take a few days' unpaid leave up until the end of Dec and go back in January.

But when the twins came early, the plan got messed up (the first of many plans!). I obviously took off the first four hospital days as maternity leave. But then after that I told him I'd work from home while they were in NICU and he was fine with that.

So now I have to technically go back on 18 December because we decided that it's just not worth taking half the month as unpaid and losing thousands of rands seeing as the babies are so expensive.

My boss then said to me, "well come in on the 18th, show your face (n.b.) and sort out your emails and so on, and then work from home the rest of the month"

Is he not a winner boss?

As I said, fabulous!!!

By the way, there's never been any question in my mind of going back to work or not...but I will have to save all that thinking for another post as this is my contribution for the 30-minute blog challenge and 25 minutes are up!

P.S. The babies are 16 weeks today. Now getting very cute :)


  1. Ack! Stupid America! I'm so jealous! I would have taken all the leave I could get. I should be happy that I had 8 weeks instead of 6 but I had to have surgery for that-not sure it was worth it! Of course I had 19 weeks off before hand...

    At my company I could have requested a Leave of Absence for up to 6 months, but I had already been out close to that and after 6 months of absence of any kind they reserve the right to get rid of you. :(

    I would LOVE to work from home! I wish it were possible. Maybe I need to find a new job...

  2. Wow! What a great boss! and just to give you the other side of the coin - new zealand may be awesome, but here in the U.S., you get 6 weeks paid (with up to 3 months total UNPAID) but only if you have worked 12 months for the same company before your leave. For me, since i'm a medical trainee, I get 6 WEEKS. That's it. Crazy, huh? Not really even enough time to recover completely from a C-section or get the hang of breast feeding. Oh well.

    The babies are looking fabulous by the way! : )


  3. Sweet babies. :) Great boss!!! I was back at work at 7 weeks cause I ate up all my time with 14 weeks of bedrest. Sigh. But then they ended up letting me go part time and then I quit a year later.

  4. Hi, just found your blog. I am Leigh as well :)
    In the UK, you get a statutory minimum of £123 per week and you can take a year off and your job will be safe.
    At my work, they top up this minimum and give 4 months full pay, and then another 4 months half pay! Only problem is, I just found out my office is closing down and i am being made redundant!


  5. Your boss sounds wonderful. I was lucky to have an equally wonderful boss when I had my girls. Her younger son is four months older than my girls. She once walked into my office carrying a breast pump flange and said, "I think this is yours, because there's an odd number of them on my desk." Oops! We were meticulous about keeping the breast milk in the fridge labeled! She also let me take a few days off to reestablish nursing when Jessica went on nursing strike after Lucas left for Iraq. Wonderful wonderful woman.

    Yep, the US is sorely behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to the rights of new parents. My husband gets 3 days of paternity leave from the US Army. Three days. Female soldiers can't be sent off to war until 6 months post-partum.

    Lucas got more than three days, actually, because his boss was able to make a claim that the NICU stay qualified as an emergency, but the day we heard the girls would be released within the week, Lucas had to leave town to join his unit for desert training. I still couldn't drive because of the C-section, but my wonderful father-in-law drove me the 30 miles to the hospital each day so I could deliver breast milk to the babies.

    I found going back to work a very positive experience. It was nice to be back to a place where I was valued for my brain and not my milk-production! Also, it was a confidence boost after all the unsureness that comes with new parenthood.

  6. Your boss is awesome!

  7. You have a fantastic boss. It will be hard to return to work, but you'll survive it (that's so hard to remember at first, or at least was for me). Two cute babies to come home to make it worth it!

  8. I work for a tiny non-profit in the US and I get... ready for this... 10 days of paid maternity leave. Oh boy.

    It is so wonderful to hear of a situation where people are trying to support a mom. Kudos to your boss. And best to you in the transition. I am sure you will find a balance that works for you and for the babes.

  9. Heehee...thanks, I love seeing them in those Bumbo's...they look so grown up!

    I can't believe how much time you get for maternity...that's awesome!!

  10. Leigh, your boss does sound awesome - but I do suspect that he knows that he's onto a good thing with you so if he treats you well, you'll put the effort in too :)

    Man I must be hormonal. Reading about having to go back to work so soon (apart from the UK - go the UK!) is making me cry. I just can't fathom how anyone can go back to work 6 weeks after having a baby. I'm struggling with the thought of putting Minxy in daycare when she's closer to 12 months. OK off to find a tissue.

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