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Yahoo maternity leave gets a boost — how does it compare to yours?

The average length of maternity leave is actually lower.

By TheBump.com May 1, 2013 5:51PM
Photo: Working Mom // Thinkstock/The Bump

By: Elena Donovan Mauer for TheBump.com

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer sparked controversy earlier this year, when she announced that her company’s employees would no longer be able to work from home. "That’s so anti-working-parent," people thought. But in April, Mayer made an announcement that may have people thinking her workplace is more family-friendly: Maternity and paternity leave has been extended.

More from The Bump: Do you have working mom guilt?

“Under the new policy, mothers can take 16 weeks of paid leave with benefits, and fathers can take up to eight weeks, each time they have a new child via childbirth. Both parents receive eight weeks of paid leave for new children via adoption, foster-child placement or surrogacy,” reports NBC Bay Area. This is about double the maternity leave that the company’s old policy allowed.

This may allow Yahoo to better compete with nearby tech companies Google and Facebook for employees. Google offers 18 to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave, and Facebook offers four months of paid leave to both mothers and fathers.

So, is this normal? Well, no, it’s not. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Women’s Health USA 2011 report, the average length of maternity leave was 10.3 weeks, and only 24.9 percent of women had paid maternity leave for more than two months. In fact almost one-third (29.4 percent) didn’t take any maternity leave, and 33.1 percent of those who took it didn’t have any portion of their leave paid.

In the U.S., companies are required by law to hold a parent’s job for 12 weeks after the birth of a child, but that’s only if the company and employee both qualify under the Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA). For example, if your company has fewer than 50 employees or you’ve worked for the company for less than 12 months, you wouldn’t qualify. And, none of those 12 weeks is required to be paid. How much you’re paid for depends on your employer’s policies.

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So there’s quite a range, as working moms on TheBump.com message boards demonstrate:

“I took 12 weeks, which was as much as was allowed by my employer. Six weeks were paid. However I did just hear that our maternity policy changed and now they are paying the full 12-week period. So when I’m out this September with baby No. 2 it will be paid for. Yay!” – RedDDD

“I will take eight weeks off. I work for a small company and don’t qualify for FMLA. I negotiated it with my employer up from six weeks. I will have four weeks paid, made up of two weeks vacation and two weeks paid maternity leave. I am the first in my company to have a baby, and two weeks paid maternity and paternity leave is now written into our company policy. I am proud to be a part of that added benefit.” – jlaOK

“I took two weeks before birth and 20 afterwards. This is two weeks beyond my company’s maximum policy. An exception was allowed since I had a huge vacation balance and the last two weeks fell during the holidays, which are slow for us. The company fully paid my salary for the two weeks before, and I had a combination of short-term disability and pay (for a total of my whole salary) for 12 weeks after birth. I was then able to use sick and vacation pay for weeks 13 through 20.” – whynotwhynot

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“I am taking six weeks off and then going back part time for six weeks. Then I’ll be working from home two or three days a weeks and in the office either two or three days a week. It will all be paid, thank God.” – JNLSLSM

“I took six weeks with my first child and five weeks with my second. I needed the money, so I returned to work. Besides, both times, my employer called or emailed me while I was off, and I worked from home anyway. Four weeks was paid at 60 percent of my salary. The other two weeks were unpaid.” – LoCarb

“I took the 12 weeks allowed under FMLA. They wouldn’t hold my job any longer than that. I received four weeks of short-term disability pay at 60 percent of my wages.” – financial diva

“All in all I took six-and-a-half months. I did a lot of research, and the other people in my company who had taken maternity leave said seven months is the max. Sixteen weeks were paid.” – Brendamndz

“I took 13 weeks off. The plan was 12, but my daughter came early. I’m a teacher, and I had to give a specific date that I could come back, so they could put a substitute on contract. Ten days were paid — five were sick days and five were childbirth leave. The rest was unpaid.” – dizzykates

How much maternity leave did you take or do you plan to take? Do you think more companies should extend their maternity leave, like Yahoo did?

More from The Bump:

Maternity leave around the world

The 10 hardest things about maternity leave (and how to deal)

Maternity leave checklist: prep for your time off

May 8, 2013 2:32AM
I didn't have any maternity leave at my job.  Of course, that was in the late 80s.  I had two kids and went right back to work almost immediately - had to - needed the money.
May 7, 2013 11:58PM
You mean you get health insurance and a Maternity leave???? Guess you don't work for a California Small Business then. But congrats to you! Thats wonderful for you! How sweet.
May 7, 2013 9:29PM
As a woman, I do not believe maternity leave should be paid, no work no money.  I also don't think childbirth is a disability.  I had a child that was born really sick and had surgery at 8 days old, does this entitle me to extra FMLA time, maybe but not pay.  My employer did not force me to get pregnant so why should they have to pay for it.

May 7, 2013 8:51PM
In this day an age , it's time to do away with it . If you want kids , GREAT , more power to you ! Don't see woman as BABY machines , or this is something THEY must do . The times should reflect that ...
May 7, 2013 8:38PM
Why does maternity leave count as disability?  I would think disability shouldn't be a voluntary decision.    How about not having children you can't afford to support?  Or is that just ridiculous in this day and age.
May 7, 2013 8:37PM

I wonder if they add this pay into the calculations when they tell us how much less women are paid than men.    Actually, I'm sure they don't.    So maybe when we start comparing how much a man earns compared to a woman, we should consider time actually worked.   This is not a popular opinion, I'm sure, so flame away.  If a company can afford to do this, great!  More power to them, and I'm sure they will attract a lot of younger employees looking to take advantage, but I don't think this can be a successful business model in the US.

May 7, 2013 7:23PM
I took my 12-weeks allowed under FMLA.  It was all unpaid.  My company (large, commercial airline) does not pay for maternity leave.  I cashed out all of my vacation and sick time just to have some money.  I also got a small stipend from my short-term disability.  I would have to say it sucked; I would have liked to have stayed home longer.  Right when I was returning, my baby was really starting to recognize me, and other big changes were happening as well.  All for the ladies at daycare to witness and enjoy :(
May 7, 2013 7:22PM
I am a teacher with a large school district and I actually have to pay the school district back $250 per day that I am out past the number of sick days I have acquired. Short term disability will take care of some of that and I do get to take advantage of FMLA.
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