Friday, October 23, 2009

She's leaving work, bye bye...

It's interesting, telling people that I'm leaving work to be a stay-at-home mom.

I suppose that if I had done so in 1989 I would have gotten some flack from women for quitting my career, but these days I get nothing but positive reactions. Top responses include "Good for you", "You're lucky", "Wish I could have done that", "It's what's best for the kid". Most of these are closely followed by "you can always come back". In my profession it's especially possible to come back as a part-timer...that is, if the hiring freeze ever thaws.

That's the other interesting aspect. The City has a hiring freeze in place, meaning that no matter who leaves and no matter the reason, we can't hire anyone else. We've already lost people and things are beginning to get rather tight. Add in that another full-time person with my same title is retiring this December, and it makes things a little more personal.

With all this in mind I decided to let my management know as soon as I made the decision. I knew that they would make a case to City Hall to attempt to fill my position, and that this would take a while. I also knew that even under perfect circumstances it takes 3 months for the City to hire anybody, due to a lengthy application process, multiple interview panels, and full background checks.

So, I told them. I told my coworkers. I said, I'm planning to leave, and it'll be sometime in January. This was probably in early September. They assured me I had plenty of time to put in my paperwork, and thanked me for the warning.

After a while I called up Human Resources to figure out how all this works. I knew about the Family and Medical Leave Act which ensures that I can get unpaid time off and not lose my job. It's lovely - if you're coming back to work. But how does maternity leave work when the leave is permanent?

At first the HR person seemed to say I could get my sick leave and my vacation time via the Act. After a while I realized she was still working on the idea that I was coming back. When I insisted that yes, I was leaving for good, she finally said "Did you tell anybody? See, if you don't tell anybody, then we can give you all this, and then you can just quit from there." She then revealed that since I was stupid enough to make my intentions known, I would now lose my sick leave (all 34 days of it). I would get my vacation paid out, though.

I was horrified that in order to work the system, I would have had to lie to my coworkers for 6 months and put my management in a disadvantaged position. Without the advance notice, there would be no way to even make a case to City Hall, and my division would be totally screwed.

In talking to the library director, she said there was a person in Finance who had a baby, took the medical leave, and actually called from home to say she was quitting...and that this is the standard way to get your money. This had just happened a month ago, in the midst of all this hiring mess.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who say that I must do what's right for myself and my family, and if that means setting up my workplace and all the people I've worked with for 7 years for a world of pain for probably a year to come, then that's just fine.

I simply can't fathom it.

Working with my director and HR and searching my own soul, we worked out a compromise.

I put in my official leave date as February 12th, two weeks after my due date. This is the last possible moment I could be working. If I have to leave sooner (which I probably will) I will get a note from my doc and be able to use sick leave from that day to Feb 12th. Seeing as how I plan to work as much as possible simply because I'd hate to stay home and wait out the last few weeks on pins and needles, this isn't a dishonest scenario. As long as I am able, I'm going to be at work.

We'll see how things go later on...I may feel the need to take a sick day here and there, or just leave early...and I do have that kind of leeway, which is nice. It is a bit of a bummer to lose even some of my sick leave pay, but whatever. This job has been very good to me.

To answer your other question, no, I don't know how long I'll stay home. That depends on many factors. In the meanwhile, if anyone knows of any freelance web work I might be interested in, let me know...


  1. Count me as another who is glad you are staying home with the little one!


  2. I'm actually surprised, because I've always thought of you being more career-minded. But, I think it's wonderful that you can totally just be a mom for now. Kids grow up so fast, and you'll be there through it. :)