So I wrote several posts back about how I ended up getting sick and needing to use my PTO when I had been saving it for my maternity leave, and how I was going to come up short for the week I had to cover before my paid leave kicked in. Well...the best laid plans, indeed.
Let me start by saying I work for a major hospital in a busy city, one complete with an entire Women's Health building and countless awards and Top of The lists and all that jazz. So imagine my surprise when I researched the maternity leave policy, which isn't even maternity leave as it falls under short term disability, and find that it's rather...lacking. 6 weeks for a vaginal delivery, 8 weeks for a C-section, both at 66 2/3% pay, and you have to cover your first 7 days and benefits kick in on day 8. Go America. Anyway...
I started researching this early so I would know exactly what I was getting, as the policy is a blanket one and has a lot of nonsense that doesn't apply if you are pregnant vs. injured or otherwise unable to work. Plus a coworker had warned me that due to the unclear policy, she got paid for far less time than she thought she would and advised me to look into it. I filled out the forms in August, my doctor filled out his part (which wrote me out for 12 weeks due to it being my 5th C-section, which they promptly rejected/neglected to take into account) and I spoke on the phone with the 3rd party who handles the paperwork and approvals of claims. I went over my plan of my last date of work, date of delivery, ect and had them confirm the first date I would start being paid, and that yes I could use my PTO time to cover those first 7 days no problem. As long as I didn't try and use PTO to make up the 33% difference to receive full pay stating on day 8 I was fine. I asked about the 12 weeks my doctor wrote me out for but was told that was not something they would approve ahead of time and that closer to 8 weeks post-pardum my doctor would have to submit a statement and medical records to back up this request and it would still need approval.
So back to me getting sick a few weeks before baby...I thought I was going to be short on PTO time, but due to our ridiculous system it is super hard to decipher how much time you actual have in the middle of a pay period. What you have earned isn't updated and any time off-either requested or used- may or may not be deducted from your shown available balance. The projection calculator is useless as well for the for the same reasons. I was able to figure out that I did in fact just have enough PTO left to cover those first 7 days after all, even after being sick. Plus, it looked like I would still get my Thanksgiving holiday time and could use that as well. Before I worked my last shift, I filled out the paperwork you have to do when you are off work for any reason, even though it's all done through the computer as well. But my supervisors won't actually manually put in your vacation hours if you don't fill out the forms.
The day I had the baby my mom called and reported it to Short Term Disability, since I was too drugged up to do so. Even though my last day of work was the week before and all my claims paperwork stated that date, she answered that my first day out was delivery day. So the following week I get a letter with my approval...only everything is approved for a week later, so now I was going to need another entire week of PTO to cover myself, which I didn't have. I was able to log in look at my time card and it was all sorts of wrong. Despite filling out the forms and following up with my supervisors via email the night before I went in to have the baby, they still didn't have my time card correct. I emailed them and was told because I was on leave now, HR fixes my time card not them. Okay, fine. So I spend 2 days leaving messages but never get a hold of the lady. Which is funny because 3 days before this-exactly ONE WEEK-after I gave birth, I was getting emailed asking about my return date to work my these same 2 people.
I ended up calling every branch of HR trying to figure out who can help me, as it's now Friday and the pay period closes Saturday and time cards are sent first thing Monday morning. Someone calls me back and tells me the 3 people who work in the department I need to help me and that I can talk to any of them. I leave more messages and 4 hours later call back. I talk to one pretty unhelpful person who advises me to call the Short Term Disability company to get them to adjust my date back (pregnant employees can take up to 2 weeks off before delivery/due date) and my pay would be retroactive on the following pay cycle. But I would still be short/screwed for this one. I asked about my holiday leave, and was given a stupid non-answer that didn't apply to me and made no sense.
I called Disability and they put in a request for an adjusted date, but advised that it was still subject to investigation/approval, but since my employer has a policy stating I could be out 2 weeks before delivery it should be fine. So I call HR back to let them know this but also to see if they can do anything about my screwed up time card, as I should have some PTO I can put in to cover missing days. I finally talk to someone smart, who researched everything and not only put my holiday PTO in, but also put my short term disability pay in so I wouldn't miss any paid time. And before all of that when she was getting all the info about dates taken off/date baby was born, ect she asked how everything went and how everything was going, which was a first in all this mess! I was so thankful she fixed everything for me like it wasn't an issue when the lady before her acted like she couldn't help me at all. I told her Disability was working on getting the date updated so they would have correct paperwork at some point.
So today, disability calls to ask me about the dates. The woman gave me the third degree about why I didn't work my 20 hours before going to the hospital at 6am Monday morning to have a C-Section. I basically had to justify/defend why I didn't work. That is wasn't official like my doctor said I couldn't work, but that it was common sense as there is no light duty at my job and I am on my feet and lifting patients, and it being my 5th C-section going into labor isn't an option for me, and in fact very dangerous. I also told her I had already worked it out with my HR department, and that my original claim paperwork clearly laid all this out. But no one is looking at that. I don't get it...why have a policy stating you can do X, then make it so hard for someone to actually utilize it??
It's really annoying to have done so much legwork beforehand when I sort of had the time, and to still be dealing with and straightening this out now while I am taking care of a newborn and don't really have the time, just so I am properly paid my reduced disability pay. I am really jealous of you friends in Canada who I know get an entire year!
- I am an insane human being. I have been a wife for 15 plus years, and a mom for almost as long. I had 3 children early on...then struggled with life and IF and loss for 8 years. Thought our family was complete, so I compensated by adopting all the shelter pets. Then we were surprised that our luck changed. Our running total is Parents: 2, Kids: 5, Pets:4. My life is far from perfect, and much of our happiness was hard fought and won, from the death of a parent, job loss and marriage troubles, miscarriage and IF, we have been through it all, and dare I say we made it, with a lot of love and laughter, and not taking ourselves too seriously.