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Asking about maternity benefits

 
#1 Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 13:24

CS

I am a 31 year old, female consultant. I have been offered a role with a new consultancy verbally, subject to contract agreement etc. Before I decide, I would like to find out what their policy is on maternity benefits (pay, leave, flexible working etc) as I would like to have kids in the next 2 years.

Does anyone have any recommendations on how to approach this? They obviously like me as I have been offered a role, but I do not want to plant doubts in their mind? I know that there are laws etc protecting women in this situation and I know the minimum requirements that I would get by law. However, to a male recruiter, I still believe that it could be seen as off-putting.

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#2 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 14:15

Bob to CS (#1)

Does it help to consider the question from a different angle:

Close you eyes and imagine you are sitting there with a confirmed written offer of employment and a letter clarifying that they only provide statutory maternity benefits. How much do you want the new job? Will you sign that contract, even without the maternity benefits?

If the answer is "yes", then there is no need to ask them befoer you join.

If the answer is "no", then you absolutely need to ask.

Some suggestions on how to approach:

- Perhaps you could do this after you have received a written offer.

- Contact an HR person to address this question to, not the business person recruiting you directly.

- Name the company and try to get a response on a forum like this from existing employees.

- Use LinkedIn to find an existing employee you can contact through your network.

- Find a recruitment consultant who recruits for that company, and ask them.

Good luck with it.

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#3 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 14:35

CS to Bob (#2)

Thank you - some good advice and a good different perspective.

Unfortunately I can't name the firm as I will be employee #2 in the UK practice (of a much larger organisation with policies etc) so I doubt anyone will be able to help and I would be immediately identifiable.

I will try to speak with someone in HR and / or a consultant in their HQ (internationally) to understand their experience once I have the written confirmation.

Thanks again

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#4 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 14:50

Over-worked male to CS (#3)

If you will be employee #2 in the UK practice, how will your maternity leave affect employee #1? Will you be dropping that person in the poop? If so, that's really unfair of you!

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#5 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 15:21

CS to Over-worked male (#4)

So all women who have babies are dropping their colleagues in it? Your response is not useful or constructive.

It is precisely this attitude that has led to me ask this question on here in the first place and confirms my worst fears - that it is always seen as a negative by men. It is an uphill battle for many women to have a successful career as a consultant and have a family.

For the record, there is a large pool of international consultants available and the plan is to increase the size of the UK team over the next 12 months. My timeframes, if you had read the initial post, are 2 years.

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#6 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 15:37

Anon to CS (#5)

Like it or not, nobody wants to be working with a 'drifter'. You know what I mean - the type of person who has plans to leave a company (or to take a series of breaks one after the other... no doubt after the first kid you'll want another, then another... with the maternity pay and 'keeping your options open' that goes with it) before they've even joined.

The truth is, people who join a company and then b*gger off for various extended periods of time are more often than not the type of people who muck everything up but then move on before their problems catch up with them. Yuck, I can't imagine anybody wanting to be put in the position of carrying the can for their colleague's extracurricular activities.

I'm all for family-friendly workplaces... but realistically, is it any surprise why so many men aren't exactly keen on working with colleagues who intend to take what they can and then move on, and who will in effect be reducing the continuity/stability of their working environment (not to mention the hassle they will no doubt have to put up with in order to accommodate and/or compensate for your personal commitments)?

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#7 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 16:01

PT to Anon (#6)

I think everyone is glad that you won't be contributing to the gene pool

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#8 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 16:15

Anon to PT (#7)

Too late for that. And in any event, I didn't take a year off each time and leave colleagues to pick up a trail of mess behind me.

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#9 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 16:51

Dad1 to Anon (#8)

I have worked with many mothers who have neither taken a year (which is govt policy) or left behind a mess. Many have had a far more measured approach on their return as well, tunring them into better consultants.

Many women are far better consultants than their male counterparts and should be encouraged to stay within the profession.

Deciding on whether a firm will be right for you should your circumstances change is actually a far better decision making process than joining, realising that it can't work and having to leave, hence causing far more disruption.

Good luck CS.

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#10 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
08/04/2009 17:01

Statistician to Dad1 (#9)

Your comments are merely anecdotal and therefore statistically irrelevant.

Hehe.

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#11 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 01:20

Derek to deleted (#0)

CS

I mostly agree with Bob - however one of the options not covered is just taking the job and then finding out what the policy is. I guess this wouldn't work if the alternative was to stay where you are and receive decent benefits.

I'd be tempted to phone anonymously, posing as someone interested in joining the org and ask what the mat policy is.

Good luck!

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#12 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 08:38

Raised Eyebrow to Derek (#11)

It appears that the whole issue of maternity pay/leave is a big issue to her. As she's clearly feeling very clucky right now it might be worth her taking a little more time to get her thoughts straight and make her decision about the job. Everybody knows roughly what to expect in these circumstances, but if her decision about the job is hinging on something marginal such as whether they offer 10 weeks enhanced pay as opposed to 8 or whatever, then I would propose that she's making the decision about this job for the wrong reasons. My advice is to choose the job based on the job itself. Minor perks around maternity pay will not make the difference between it being viable for you or not.

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#13 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 09:40

Casio to Raised Eyebrow (#12)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7990648.stm

... boohoo

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#14 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 10:30

Mars A Day to Casio (#13)

Hands up everyone who would like to work in an environment with absolutely NO women in it.

Exactly. Women have babies. Deal with it.

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#15 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 11:03

Casio to Mars A Day (#14)

Remuneration packages based on sound commercial judgements and equity for all rather PC rhetoric won't stop women having babies.

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#16 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 11:52

Speaking from experience to CS (#1)

Hi CS

You are describing where I was a few years ago. I have since had a child and although the maternity and the return to work polices were good on paper ( I'm not just talking money its about being able to continue my career after my husband and I decided to have a family) the reality was nothing like it, - assumptions made about my career aspirations, rubbish projects and definitely no flexible working. My question to you is whether changing employer at this time is a good idea? having a track record and strong relationships counts for a lot in this situation. This isn't how it should be but the reality is that consulting is full of idiots like Anon.

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#17 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 12:07

An honest day's work to Speaking from experience (#16)

My hypotheses:

1. The reason they put u on poop projects was cuz they need some1 who will follow things through 2 the end, whereas u r more likely 2 be distracted by personal commitments and 2 disappear off 2 have another kid halfway through a project, leaving them wiv all sorts of handover and client relationship problems.

2. The reason they did not support flexible working was cuz the job needs some1 who is there to do the work when it needs doing. If that means 5 days a week during office hours and lots of travel then u can hardly expect them to let u pop in from 10-4pm 4 days a week and never do any travel.

I dun think anyone (me included) is against hard working moms like u per se, but we dun wanna get pooped on ourselves. We have enuff poop 2 deal wiv as it is without colleagues who are only 80% there to support us or who r more likely 2 let us down when we need their help

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#18 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 14:42

MBB to An honest day's work (#17)

Seriously, how do you think you were all born? How would you feel imposing the same restrictions to your mum or your sister? Maybe some of you would not be here to read this post!

I completely understand people being annoyed with being dumped with excess work but it is not a mother’s fault, it is your employer’s fault for not providing adequate support for that contingency.

Something else that strikes me is how fanatical people are about work...work to life not life to work! Some people even say that their strategy is to work really hard for x years before they retire but how does that even make sense. Enjoying life and being happy every day make much more common sense.

If everyone considered that spending time with friends and family is more essential than overworking in order to enjoy life later on then this world would be a much better place!

At least in MBB the flexibility is in place to provide mothers with the correct support!

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#19 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 14:45

Anon to MBB (#18)

I used to work for an MBB firm and it was anything but family friendly. All nighters and 80% travel are not conducive to picking the kids up at 3.15pm every day.

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#20 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 15:06

Curious to MBB (#18)

I used to work in MBB and they they taught us to be pedants who pick up things like the misuse of 'life' in the place of 'live'.

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#21 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 15:20

Anon to Curious (#20)

Yes, and there should have been a question mark rather than a full stop at the end of the sentence that reads: "Some people even say that their strategy is to work really hard for x years before they retire but how does that even make sense."

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#22 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 15:54

CS to Anon (#21)

To everyone who has left useful perspectives and advice, thank you very much.

It has enabled me to see things in a different light - maternity benefits are just one basis of changing job, not the be all and end all. What is important is working in an environment where you are supported by your colleagues, whether you are a mother or not!

Thanks again

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#23 RE: Asking about maternity benefits
09/04/2009 16:11

Anon to deleted (#0)

You're welcome. We may be tough with the way we say things here, but if it helps you see things clearly and make the right decision, then we have done the right thing.

Have a nice break. xx

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