Job stuff

Forever and ever, my life was consumed with trying to become pregnant. I did not think much at all about what would come next. And I don’t just mean the medical and science-y stuff that happens to the body and a growing baby. I mean, like, how my job would be effected.

Well, actually, my grand rainbows-and-sunshine-and-fairy-dust plan was that I would freelance part-time and care for the baby part-time after giving birth. To that end, I have been pretty actively freelancing in my spare time over the past couple of years (weekends, nights after work) to try to keep up contacts, etc.

So now I find myself in a slightly messy situation. Hubs is a 5th year graduate student and as he burns the midnight oil finishing his dissertation, he is becoming concerned that the changes and improvements his professors will suggest will be so dramatic that he will not be able to immediately go on the job market this fall/winter, as we had always planned. And that, in fact, he very well may be TAing and re-working his dissertation for a 6th year of grad school, and then entering the job market next fall/winter and beginning work in the fall of (gulp) 2012. Which means we will be without a legit income and/or benefits from him next year.

Which means I will have to go back to work after we have the babies. [Caveat: I feel really, really, really weird writing that, as though it is actually happening. Eeeeek. Please don’t strike me down, baby Gods.]

The complicated thing is that I got a promotion at the beginning of the summer. I won’t receive my title change or salary increase until January (yes, annoying), but the new job has many more responsibilities and later hours. I often don’t leave the office until 8pm. The thought of missing most week nights with the babies, plus working full-time and being away from them, somewhat breaks my heart. Plus, I don’t know how financially possible it is to pay for full- or part-time childcare (assuming hubs can arrange his sked to be home a couple days a week) on my somewhat crappy salary. But, the job has insurance coverage, and for the whole family, and I know how valuable that is.

There is a new job being created at our office and it begins in January. It’s part-time (two days a week) and if you choose benefits, the salary sucks. But it sounds perfect to me. I could be VERY happy working two days a week and being home with the babies the rest of the week. Plus we save money on child care. They begin interviewing candidates next week, so if I want it, I can’t think it over for a month or two—I’d need to act somewhat fast. (I don’t even know if I could snag that job, but possibly.)

Hubs doesn’t like the idea of me ditching my high-level job, which I’ve only just gotten and won’t officially be recognized for until January, for a lower-level gig. He thinks I should ask my bosses to come up with solutions for THIS job within my demands (leave by 530pm every night, possibly work a shorter week, etc). But as nice and kind as they are, there’s nothing my bosses can do about the fact that my new job is more intense and requires more hours….I truly don’t see how I could possibly finagle, say, a four day work week or a leave by 5:30pm sked. It’s not their fault, it is what it is. (STUPID PROMOTION!) But hubs is starting to understand how important it is to me to not come home late every night once we have kids. And that it might be pretty tough for him to manage two infants every week night on his own.

The other complicating factor is that I don’t know exactly how maternity leave works in my office. I thought we were allowed up to 12 weeks unpaid leave with FMLA laws, but something in our employee handbook (which I’ve been reading and re-reading this week) makes me think women who have just given birth might be eligible to have some of their salary for those 12 weeks, due to short-term-disability coverage provided by our office. That would suddenly make switching to the part-time job in January a major liability, as I would be paid at a much lower rate instead of my current/raise rate. I definitely need to talk to my HR manager tomorrow about the maternity leave policy. (And, yuck, by the way. He is a total gossip. I am going to have sternly tell him this is a confidential conversation. I think he’s required by law to honor my wishes???)

And you know what else? It feels like I’m jinxing myself by doing all of this research and considering all of these options and potentially applying for a new job within my company within the month. I’m anxious that something is going to go wrong almost every waking second. But at the same time, it’s imperative to set our (hopefully, hopefully) family up for next year. Ahhhh!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m reallllllllllllly happy to be having this dilemma. Hubs and I are blessed to be given these complicated choices. It’s just messy.

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Job stuff

  1. FCblacksheep

    Wow, that’s tricky. I think it’s smart that you’re starting to plan now, especially since this new position might be a good option. But I agree with hubs, you shouldn’t jump the gun. I think talking to the HR guy (doesn’t being in HR and being a gossip kind of equal future lawsuit???) is a good idea. You need to explore all of your options, know exactly what’s available to you, and take it step by step.

    While there’s nothing that can be done about the hours, if you’re that valuable, which I think you are, your bosses may really be willing to work something out, like maybe have someone split responsibilities with you. Also, aren’t they going to wonder what’s going on if you suddenly apply for a part-time position? It might not be a bad idea to explore other options with your current position first before going down to just two days.

    Remember also, hubs future isn’t set yet either, you don’t really know when he’ll be entering the workforce so that could change.

    I have no doubt Egg, given your constant planning and attention to detail, that will make the best decision for all of you.

  2. Tarah

    If you pay for (or your company offers) short term disability then yes, you will get some sort of pay during your maternity leave.

    I was having the same train of thought yesterday on my way home from work. I’m already worried about a million things and the baby is still cooking away.

    I worry about daycare, I worry about when they go to school, with both of us working – how will it work out getting them to and from school? Who will watch them? What about when they want to get into sports and other activities? The list goes on and on!

    I’m just taking it one day at a time and we’ll figure it out as we go!

  3. Yes, your HR manager must keep his mouth shut. It’s the law. Good luck with the conversation. I hope it goes well!

  4. Oh my heavens, this is complicated and stressful and fraught! And I have, like, ZERO good advice. (Except to say that going on the job market is certainly no guarantee of securing a job, so planning for another year of grad school is a very good backup plan, though of course I hope his committee is psyched with his dissertation and that he scores the best job possible, though…if you’re not planning to leave Chicago his choices will be limited…ANYWAY!) I guess all you can do is figure out what your options are and take it from there. And the baby gods know that making these plans is not an insult to them or an assumption that everything’s going to go fine. Just a smart woman doing what she’s got to do!

  5. That sounds complicated. I would talk to your hr guy and see what you can do. If you are able to try for the lower hour job I would try for it. good luck figuring everything out.

  6. AL

    Oh man, so many variables and choices and none of them sound like the perfect solution. But, I know that you and your hubby will come up with a something that will work perfectly for you and your family.

    And yes, Mr HR is legally bound to keep quiet.

  7. Definitely a complicated situation. I would be terrified to spill the beans to anyone until second tri, but I understand that sometimes you’ve got to move on things. Your husband’s suggestion sounds like a reasonable place to start to me– maybe they can’t do anything to make your new position more family friendly, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, right? And then you can take it from there.

  8. Holy crap, that’s complicated. I hope your HR guy can help you navigate the craziness.

  9. First: you are entitled by law to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Many offices (and it sounds like your office is one of them) let you take short term disability while on leave. In most cases (I would have to see your plan to know for sure), this means you get 60% of your pay for 6 weeks.

    a) this would be WAY less if you took the lesser paying job.
    b) the plan may not even apply to part-time employees (many benefits don’t apply to part-time employees).

    So PLEASE go talk to your HR rep immediately to figure out how all the benefits work before making any decisions.

    Good luck!

  10. It IS messy. Around 9 weeks at my annual review, I let boss know that I was pregnant and that I had no intention of keeping my full-time position after the baby gets here, but was eager to discuss ways that I could stay on, part-time. (This was something that we had discussed when he hired me. He knew I was trying to get pregnant.)

    Big Mistake for me– He started looking for my replacement months before I was ready to actually leave, then made it sound like I didn’t have a choice about when my last day was– this left me jobless for the past two months while I’ve been waiting for Liam’s arrival!

    I worked in an office that only had 8 people, so FMLA didn’t apply. You’re lucky to have a dedicated HR person to discuss your options with!

  11. CW

    Oh tough decisions. I understand too about the rainbow and sunshine. In April I said to Chippie we have been trying for 18 months and we don’t have one single cent raised for this mythical child!!

    I think you should talk to HR. They should be able to arrange a solution that allows you to keep your position and one that works for them too. I don’t know if you have job sharing? I only know how HR works Oz style so not sure what happens in USA but at home you get 12 months of (currenly unpaid) maternal leave and when you return you get the same job or similar. You can’t lose your benefits. I imagine it would have to be the same in some respects over there?

    This insurance thing you have is a killer. Whenever I read your blogs I am blown away by how important medical coverage is.

    You sound like you work for some good eggs a bit of talk and a bit of negotiating you should come up with a good solution.

    Oh and finally your HR mangaer should be saying nada! Gossip or not he is dealing with private matters anything you say is verbotim to anyone else!

  12. Nicole

    Tough choices. I guess you just make the best decision you can with the info you have now.

    I work full time, my husband was also a long-term grad student in an obscure field. He just (2 months ago) decided that it would be better if he pursued a physician assistant degree. It will take about 4 years for him to get the pre reqs and regular program done, but that will still be better than finishing the phd, trying to find a postdoc and then job.

    Although that means I keep working. Fortunately my work has a childcare facility, which I like and can go down whenever I want. Plus no dropping off at another place. AND it is subsidized since they get the building space free.

    I still don’t get to stay home full time but it’s the best situation if I have to work and then I still have a career when my kid(s) are in school.

  13. Yes, it does sound complicated! Makes you wish for “ye olden days” when the ladies got to stay home and drink martinis while the help chased the children around. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Mad Men.

    Gosh, I have no advice for you. Unfortunately it seems you are thinking clearly about the situation and there is, in fact, no easy solution. Having said that, it sounds like you’re taking the right steps, and will eventually come up with something that, while not perfect, will work for you guys in the short run until hubs can pick up the slack.

    Oh, and just one more time: TWINS!!

  14. Jen

    Yep, HR dude has to keep his mouth shut (I work in HR). In WI, most employers offer STD, and it is standard/WI law to get 6 weeks’ disability after birth of a child (both vag and c-sec). It is paid at 60% of regular income, which you can supplement here with ETO, etc. It IS paid pre-tax though, and so it works out to be more than a normal paycheck at 60%, just an FYI. Not sure if IL is the same….

  15. Kelly

    I wish I had great advice for you, but alas…

    Anyway, I hope the HR guy can clear some stuff up for you AND keep his damn mouth shut.

  16. I don’t have any concrete advice, except that I do know that you will not want to work until 8 pm every day when the babies arrive! I think you should apply for the part time job (you don’t have to take it), and then negotiate on the start date. You’ll never get the promotion salary, but perhaps you can at least keep your current salary until after your maternity leave. Or, you can just go with the status quo for now, and then when your maternity leave is over you can tell your employers that you want to be demoted. Ugh!

    I know what you mean about how it feels to early to make these concrete life changs! It reminds me of when I had to turn down the Oxford position when I was only 4-5 weeks pregnant. That was scary, too!

  17. What a dilemma! I hope you can sort some stuff out soon. If they really want to keep you, I imagine they’ll work *something* out. Family leave in the U.S. is definitely F-ed up.

  18. Kate

    What a tough situation. How old will the babes be when you think the hubby will have a job? You can do anything for a short period of time. And, I have to admit that the first couple of months they kind of just lay there and wouldn’t know if you were there or not. After about 9/10 months…so much fun…and I wouldn’t miss this stage (22 months) for the world. This being said, is telework an option??

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