Maternity leave is a complex issue, both personally and professionally. And, more often than not, policy differs from practice. Based on interviews that highlight the perspectives and perceptions of new mothers, Maternity Leave: Policy and Practice examines the disconnect between maternity leave policy and practice. It presents the history and development of maternity leave policies and related legislation, and then provides a fresh perspective for understanding through individual interviews of women who recently utilized maternity leave.
The book also examines themes and patterns developed from the interviews, such as inconsistencies in administration of maternity leave policies, timing, transition back to work, child care, breastfeeding and pumping, and unmet needs and professional concerns. It also gives a voice to those who are absent from the core interviews—women who have children at a young age, men who utilize paternity leave, women in same-sex relationships who start families, and women who choose not to have children. The book highlights why some colleagues may be unsupportive of the utilization of maternity leave.
A single-source guide to understanding maternity leave, the book contains a wealth of information, including an overview of legislation related to pregnancy and maternity leave; trends in birth rates, fertility rates, employment patterns, and the relationship to the types of maternity leave offered and taken; issues related to maternal health; an international comparison of policies; and practical recommendations for policy and organizational change. It not only offers a comprehensive and complete understanding of the complexities of maternity leave, both in policy and in practice, but also practical recommendations for policy and organizational change.
Introduction: What Have We Done to Our Daughters?
Maternity Leave—An Unresolved Conversation?
Are Maternity Leave Expectations and Realities Mismatched?
Background: Understanding the Legislative Intent and Symbolism of Public Policies
In the Beginning: The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Tax Code and Child Care and Child Tax Credits
The Promises and Problems of the Family and Medical Leave Act
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
The Economic, Social, and Symbolic Implications of Maternity Leave Policies
The Evolution and Devolution of Maternity Leave as an Employee Benefit
Trends in Birthrates, Fertility Rates, Employment Patterns, and Use of Maternity Leave Benefits
Types of Maternity Leave Taken—Paid and Unpaid
Types of Paternity and Parental Leave Policies
Examples of Maternity Leave Policies
Antenatal Leave and Short-Term Disability Leave
No Leave and Permanent Exit from the Workplace
Women’s Health Care and the Workplace
Health Insurance for Women of Childbearing Age
Intended and Unintended Pregnancies
Pregnancy and Work
Pregnancy and Factors Impacting Infant Mortality
Maternity Leave and Infant Mortality
Mother’s Return to Work and Breast-Feeding
Well-Baby Doctor Visits
Optimal Length of Maternity Leave
The Baby’s Perspective
The Need for a Holistic Approach to Women’s Health
The Methodology: Why Qualitative Research?
Analysis of the Interviews
The Participants: Who Are These Women?
Description of the In-Depth Interview Questions
The Interviews: Profiles of Women and Their Perceptions and Experiences
Employees of Public Universities
Employees of Private Universities
Employees of the Pharmaceutical Industry
The Themes: How Women Cope with the Myths and Realities of Maternity Leave
Inconsistencies in Administration of Maternity Leave Policies
It Is All in the Timing
Transition Back to Work
Breast-Feeding, Pumping, and the Workplace
Unmet Needs and Professional Concerns
The Other Voices
Students Who Are Mothers: Is It Better to Have Children at a Younger Age?
Fathers Who Utilized Paternity Leave
Challenges Faced by Same-Sex Couples Who Decide to Become Parents
Women Who Decided Not to Have Children
Unsupportive versus Supportive Colleagues—The Stereotypes and Biases
Administrative Views—Rules versus Discretion
An International Comparison—The Other Kingdoms
What Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, and Parental Leave Benefits Are Offered in Other Countries?
Why Is the United States Lagging behind Other Countries in Providing Maternity Leave Benefits?
Conclusion: Can the Fairy Tale Be Realized or Should It Be Rewritten?
What Are the Obstacles to a Happy Ending for Our Daughters?
What Can We Reasonably Expect to Change within Our Organizations?
What Is Best for Society?
Restoring the Fairy Tale