Magazine article Working Mother

Opting Out?

Magazine article Working Mother

Opting Out?

Article excerpt

Before she became pregnant, Lori Mukoyama, 33,. had been working at a hectic Chicago ad agency. "I'd always thought I would go right back after maternity leave," she says. But shortly before the end of her three-month leave, a former employer she'd dropped in on to say hello to offered her a job that would allow her to work from home. "I suddenly realized I didn't want to be apart from my new baby so much," Lori explains. "So I took the offer."

Splashy media headlines have focused recently on the "opting-out" phenomenon, in which successful businesswomen decide to exit or at least ratchet down their career track for the mommy track-sometimes after telling their employers they'll be back and enjoying paid maternity leave before quitting their jobs. The real story: Some women do leave their jobs after having a baby, but the percentage is very small. A Department of Labor Family and Medical Leave Act study from 2000 found that 98 percent of employees who took leave under FMLA returned to work for the same employer, says Debra Ness, president of the nonprofit National Partnership for Women & Families. And often women who leave their jobs do so to work from home or to start their own business to get the flexibility they want-not to exit the workforce.

Still, it can be tempting to get paid for maternity leave while you're pondering postbaby life. But is it legal, or ethical, to tell your boss you're coming back when you might not? Here's the scoop on the right ways to handle your leave.

Know your rights. "If an employee decides not to return after the end of her maternity leave, the employer usually wouldn't have legal recourse, just as they generally wouldn't against someone who took a sabbatical to, say, care for an elderly parent," says Gina Chang, a labor attorney on the American Bar Association's Federal Labor Standards Legislation Committee. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.