Bush Says New Moms and Their Babies Cost Too Much
When it was time to travel to China to bring home our little PunditBaby, I was working at a large government agency in a pretty senior position. I assumed that I would be able to take paid maternity leave, though I figured I'd have to jump through a few hoops since my adoption "pregnancy" was not in utero.
Too bad someone wasn't trying to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge or some miracle cure-all at the time, 'cause they probably could have fooled me on that, too.
See, federal employees don't get paid maternity leave. If you're having a baby, or adopting, and you want paid time off, you've got to use accumulated vacation/sick/comp time. Otherwise, you're on your own.
When I realized all that, my jaw just about hit the top of my big government-issue desk. What happened to all that family-friendly speak?? It seemed safe to assume that if you were working for Uncle Sam that paid pregnancy leave was in the package-- after all, most professionals who work for the government take a huge hit in income, but do it for the trade-off of more reasonable working hours and, usually, a nicer benefits package. Next time, I'll pay more attention to the fine print.
Congress is mulling over a little something called the Parental Paid Leave Act, that would give federal employees a whopping four whole weeks off with pay for maternity leave. It passed the House of Representatives and is idling as it waits to head on over to the Senate. There seems to be some support for the bill, but President Bush (haven't we kicked him off this throne yet??) says he won't sign the bill into law because it's a "costly, unnecessary, new paid leave entitlement."
Sure there's a cost to the bill, but without it there's a different kind of cost -- employees who leave or don't come back because of the current draconian family policies. Sure, there's the Family and Medical Leave Act, but that doesn't apply to federal workers and it's unpaid leave anyway.
What's even worse about Bush's position is that he, as the father of daughters, is telling all the rest of the fathers in the country that their daughters who work for him don't deserve a few weeks off with their new babies where they don't have to worry about how they're going to pay for the Pampers.