I met with the HR rep for my library job this week, to go over maternity leave details. She gave me all the forms to fill out and explained how the leave works with FMLA, short-term disability, and vacation time. I was very honest with her and told her that I’m not at all sure that I will return to my job after I have the baby. I told her that I’m not planning to make a final decision until after we’ve had a few weeks with the baby to see how everything is going and see how we feel then. She said that’s perfectly ok, and that at any time during my 12 week leave I can let them know that I’m not coming back, and they will just cash out my remaining vacation time. I asked about taking the disability leave if I don’t end up going back to work, and she said that the disability leave is a benefit that I’ve already accumulated based on the amount of time I’ve worked so far – it has nothing to do with future employment. Right now I qualify for 6 weeks of paid disability leave at 60% of my normal pay. Until I met with her, I had been feeling like I should not accept the disability pay, since I can’t promise that I’ll be going back to work. But she made me feel like I should go ahead and take it, especially when she described it as a benefit I’ve already earned.
The 6 weeks of disability pay comes out to about $1500. I’ll also have about $2700 worth of vacation time built up – I haven’t taken any vacation time at all since I got pregnant. So that will be helpful this summer. It’s nice to know that I can have the baby and take some time to figure out what will work best for our family – I don’t have to make any promises or decisions either way until after the baby is born.
Out of respect for my supervisor, I’m going to give myself four weeks to make a decision, and if I decide at that time that I don’t want to go back to work at the library, I’ll let her know so that she can post the job opening. My disability pay would stop at that point, but I would still be able to cash out all my saved vacation time. The lady in HR said I could wait until the day before I’m scheduled to start back to let them know my decision, but I think I will have made a decision long before then, and I don’t think it would be fair to my supervisor to let her know at the last minute.
So overall I’m feeling good about my options. I love my job at the library, but I’m not going to put my family in a position where we feel overwhelmed. So I’ll wait and see how things go this summer.