“Workers’ Voices” is a series on A Better Balance’s blog highlighting the firsthand experiences of workers from across the country. For some workers we are in touch with, they are covered by federal, state, or local workplace protections that make a world of difference in their ability to care for themselves and their loved ones. For others, their experiences highlight the glaring gaps that remain in our laws.
The below is a story from Monica* (*name changed to protect anonymity), a Community Advocate with A Better Balance.
I am a nurse practitioner working in care management in the insurance industry. In November of 2021, I got news that my position would be ending. Shortly after this, I found out I was expecting my second child. This should have been a happy moment for my family and I, but I was petrified being pregnant and having to search for a new role.
My first pregnancy, I had been eligible to receive 12 unpaid weeks off under the FMLA, however, due to contracts ending, I received news from HR one week after my delivery that my position would be ending after I returned from maternity leave. My daughter had complications and was being treated in the NICU, and I had to start interviewing and searching for a new job during the hardest time of my life, being a new mom to a baby with respiratory complications during a global health pandemic working in healthcare.
I received a job offer and started a new job in February 2022 for a medical group within a medical health plan. I informed my employer of my pregnancy the week I started, as I had just entered my second trimester. I requested 12 weeks of unpaid leave and was denied as I did not qualify for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) due to the 1 year employment requirement. Additionally, my estimated due date in July is 1 week shy of being qualified for my company’s 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.
“The stress and anxiety I have endured without having access to adequate maternity leave and accommodations is something no mother should have to go through.”
The 12 unpaid weeks of leave I had taken for my first delivery was not enough time off for my mental wellbeing, and now with my second pregnancy, I get even less time off – just 6 to 8 weeks of short term disability. The stress and anxiety I have endured without having access to adequate maternity leave and accommodations is something no mother should have to go through. Laws should be in place to protect a mother’s job and ensure she receives adequate time off for physical and mental healing after delivery, as well as time to bond with her newborn.
Starting a new role, being pregnant, and not knowing if I would receive adequate time off for delivery has caused me so much anxiety during my pregnancy, which has affected my job performance. How can I care for others as a nurse practitioner when I’m not getting the care I need due to inadequate laws in America?