Two months after I joined The C2 Group, my husband and I found that we were expecting our first child. I had only been with C2 for a short period of time and had just started to feel I was finding my spot in the company, so I was a bit nervous about breaking this news to my manager. I was confident they would be happy for me as a person, but what sort of leave or financial support could a small business like C2 give to an employee of my status?
When I finally broke the news, the support I felt was beyond amazing. Besides providing me with an endless supply of cookies, the management team was open to me defining a plan for leave that fit the needs of my family. My son arrived on time (to the day) and my leave worked as I planned. What I didn’t anticipate during that time was the financial stress I would feel by not working and that combined with the increased costs of a newborn would be such a challenge as a new mother.
It’s a fairly well-known fact that the United States lags far behind other high-income countries in benefits provided to new mothers in terms of both policy length and compensation. Culturally this type of benefit hasn’t been a priority. Some mothers in the US are covered under a Short Term Disability program, but these benefits only cover a portion of regular wages and last a maximum of 8 weeks. The closest thing to coverage established across the US would be the Family Medical Leave Act, which doesn’t provide any paid coverage of time out but does protect a parent’s position while he/she is out on leave (assuming they had been with the company for at least 12 months prior to leave).
In my case, only a portion of my wages were covered for 6 weeks after the birth of my son. This did not provide enough time for me to adjust to motherhood and bond with my new son and as a result I chose to take several weeks of unpaid leave and accepted the financial burden that came with that choice.
My experience during this time, and the experiences of other new parents in the office, did not go unnoticed by C2 leadership. I am incredibly proud to announce that C2 now provides two weeks paid parental leave to employees who are experiencing additions to their family via natural birth, surrogate or adoption. Read that last statement one more time… Paid Parental Leave. C2 recognized the burden of financial hardship during that key time, not to mention the sleeplessness, excess laundry, and overall lack of life balance, is felt by both mothers and fathers. This leave is in addition to short term disability, providing a nice amount of time for new parents to be out of the office adjusting to life with their new little ones.
Two weeks might not quite live up to the twenty nine weeks granted by our friends in Canada, but it is pretty great for a shop of our size in an industry that averages much less when it comes to parental benefits. In 2014, C2 added three new (miniature sized) members to our family. We all can look forward to 2015 feeling pretty great about working at a company that values us as peers and also parents.