This is a blog entry in two parts. The first part is entertaining for general audiences (and comes with Very Excellent MS Paint Illustrations!); the second part is mostly so that I remember later on when I’ve lost the rest of my mind.
After school yesterday, I went down to the district office to fill out all of my maternity leave paperwork. As previously noted, my country doesn’t mandate paid parental leave — but fortunately, I work full-time for an employer that offers short term disability insurance, and am covered by FMLA as well. Doubly fortunately, Squirmy Kermie will be arriving at such a time that I have a super-long maternity leave due to summer break.
In order for me to get paid for the time that is covered by my short term disability (which I would totally abbreviate, except that would be STD, and we’re not going to discuss what is and is not covered by an STD on this blog) my doctor and I have to file paperwork. Some of this has to wait until I’m actually unable to work (i.e., in labor) but other parts could be filed now.
Let me just tell you: This was the best paperwork ever. (The HR lady helping me told me that one of her favorite parts of her job was walking first-time parents through this paperwork. I was about to die laughing.) Why? Well, see, it’s just standard disability paperwork, not maternity-specific. And so I got to answer nosy and delightful questions like:
- On what date did this condition begin?
- Was this an accident?
- Specify how this illness or injury will prevent you from performing your work duties.
- Was this work-related? If so, do you plan to file a worker’s compensation claim?
(They asked a variation on that last one four different times. HR Lady said it was particularly funny when both parents are district employees…)
Perhaps the “best” part was that Pregnancy Brain hit me full force while I was trying to answer the basic questions. You could have held a gun to my head or offered me a million dollars, and I still would have been completely incapable of remembering my own address. I wrestled with my brain — even plugging possible addresses into my maps app on my phone in the hopes of finding my own house that way — for the entire appointment. Finally, I came up with the address and filled it in… only to get home and realize that I’d put a 9 in the street number where a 3 belonged.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up (other than to give you the opportunity to join me in laughing at myself) is that one of the questions my doctor will get to answer is, “Is this patient mentally competent to perform his or her work duties?” I got to that question, after laughing with HR Lady about how I don’t even know where I live, and burst out laughing. Go ahead and check NO on that one! Let me go home now!
So here is how it’s going to work. (Some of this is repeated information, but I want to get everything down so that it’s here for me later on.)
When I can no longer return to work (to the point where my OB will declare this to be the case… not just the point when I can’t remember where I live) my doctor will inform the district. At that point, I take (at least) ten days of my stashed-up sick and personal leave, for which I receive full regular pay. Because only three personal days will roll over to next year, I’ll use my extra days first, and then the sick leave. Technically speaking, my short term disability does not kick in until the baby shows up (regardless of whether he is early or late) OR I’m incapacitated, with the doctor’s paperwork received at the district. That means that, if I’m starting maternity leave early, I either need the doctor’s say-so or I just need to use some more of my sick leave.
After those first two work-weeks, the district stops paying me and short term disability insurance kicks in. It will pay me at 2/3 my usual salary, with nothing taken out — no taxes, no Social Security, nada. As a result, if my math is correct, I won’t actually take a financial hit. I am entitled to six weeks of this (eight weeks if we end up having a c-section) but, unless things happen pretty early, won’t need all of it. (Once June hits, I no longer have to be taking time off.) During this time, I’ll receive weekly paychecks mailed to me — instead of monthly paychecks directly deposited. We need to make sure to be vigilant about getting those checks, to make sure that my address got corrected on the paperwork. (HR Lady says it did, but it doesn’t hurt to be paranoid sometimes.)
Also, during this time, the district will be covering my non-tax monthly deductions (health insurance, professional dues, flex spending account). When I go back to a regular paycheck, they’ll slightly adjust my monthly pay for the next year so that I gradually pay them back. Since this will only be for a month, it won’t be terribly noticeable.
In June I won’t receive a regular monthly paycheck (that was the weekly stuff) but starting in July, I should be back on the district payroll.
I have enough sick leave saved up that I could, technically speaking, not use my short term disability insurance at all. This would give me full pay throughout my leave, but would also exhaust all of my sick days, and I feel like I ought to bank up as many of those as possible for next year with an infant. Since it’s an option and all.
Through FMLA, I’m entitled to a total of twelve weeks off with the guarantee of my job back when I return. Only six of it would be paid via short term disability, though. Plus, taking the full twelve weeks would mean not being here at the beginning of the school year, which is an undesireable thing in terms of setting up classroom management, expectations, etc. Because I’ll be using less than the full amount, the remainder is still at my disposal for the following school year in case something comes up that causes me to miss work (even if it isn’t in a block of time).
I mentioned that we were giving some thought to having me work 2/3 time next year (every other day) and she said that while that obviously affects my take-home pay, it doesn’t make my insurance any more expensive or less comprehensive. We looked at my insurance and think that it will make more financial sense to put Kermie on my plan than on Ryan’s, but he needs to do some research in that area as well. (It makes a CRAZY amount of NO SENSE AT ALL to have Ryan and I on the same plan. Child #1 is about $70 a month; no matter how many kids I have after the first one, the total for children is only about $75 a month. But Ryan? Putting a spouse on my insurance plan adds something like $500 a month to my insurance bill! Thank goodness he is working elsewhere…)
We checked to make sure my maternity substitute was good to go (he wasn’t yet — another of our HR people isn’t so very good about getting things done in a timely manner — so it’s a good thing I asked to check) and I was reminded that while on maternity leave, I have no work responsibilities. No lesson planning, grading, email, etc. — completely off the hook. Right now, I’m wondering whether I’ll be able to walk away that completely… but people seem to manage. 🙂
The doctor has to let the district know that I’m medically cleared to return to work (I think that’s where the mentally competent question came in) at some point as well. If he turns in that paperwork before the end of the school year, it’s not a big deal. I’ve already put in that I am out until August, and that’s all settled.
Ryan, incidentally, is entitled to FMLA as well — but his would be straight-up unpaid leave after his (smaller) stash of personal/sick leave gets used up.
There are so many awesome things about being a pregnant teacher whose baby had the courtesy to be due at the end of the school year! There are two downsides, though… the first is that it makes me sad that I’m going to miss my seniors, and it’s going to be challenging to fulfill all of my end-of-year traditions (but I’m going to make them work SOMEHOW!). The second is that the vast majority of my social circle consists of my amazing coworkers, but over breaks we all scatter to the four winds and keep in pretty poor touch. (Most of them live in a completely different town than I do and have entirely different communities.) I will miss talking to them, and sort of pre-emptively regret that they won’t all be a captive audience for baby visits and whatnot during those first few months. OH WELL. I am NOT complaining about four months of time off with my baby.
Just because it sort of fits with this post, and because I wanted to be able to find it later, here is a map that makes me cranky.