My unpaid maternity leave is causing financial stress

Until the end of the legislative session, we will be featuring stories from workers highlighting the need for Paid Family and Medical Leave. If you want to share your story, please go here.

20160327_102640My name is Jessica Palliard and I am writing to you to urge you to pass SB 221 and create a system of paid family leave.

I work as a teacher in an affluent district here in central Connecticut. The way my school district handles maternity leave is the female employee must use all of her sick time during maternity leave. If she runs out of sick time before the allowed 6 or 8 weeks is up, she does not get paid for those remaining days or weeks. In addition, when the woman returns to work, she has zero sick days for the remainder of the year since all earned sick time is used during maternity leave. 

I just gave birth to my 2nd child via a scheduled c-section. Because I had chronic, debilitating nausea and vomiting with this pregnancy, I used a lot of my sick days during the last school year. Therefore, I did not have much sick time left to use for my maternity leave. For most of my maternity leave, I will not be receiving paychecks. 

In addition to this causing a major reduction in my familys household income, I also will have to make the full monthly payments for my familys health insurance and my contribution to the state teachers retirement fund.  Normally, these expenses are taken from my paycheck. My school district ceases paying these expenses when an employee goes on unpaid status.My maternity leave has definitely caused some financial stress in my household.   

I contemplated taking the minimum 8 weeks, but after my husband and I talked about all of the variables, we decided that because this will be our last pregnancy/baby, it is more important for me to spend time with the baby than rush back to work when I will likely not be fully healed nor ready to be on my feet for 7 hours a day teaching. I have the rest of my career for that.

With my first child (also delivered via c-section), I was not fully healed after 8 weeks and was definitely not ready to resume full-time work.

When I return to work, I will have a 3 month-old, a 4 year-old, zero sick time, and well be entering flu and allergy season. This is ethically wrong and needs to be changed. Please support paid family & medical leave as it would have helped my family tremendously.