Entries in Maternity Leave (3)


Yahoo Offers Competitive Maternity Perks

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Parents and parents-to-be who work at Yahoo will be thrilled to hear news of its new, more generous maternity and paternity leave policy.

The company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will give mothers up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave, which also applies to adoption, foster child placement and surrogacy. Fathers will receive eight paid weeks. New parents will also get a $500 cash bonus for things like child care and groceries, according to a spokeswoman for the company.

Previously, Yahoo did not provide paid paternity leave and its maternity leave varied from state to state.

In July, when CEO Marissa Mayer first began leading Yahoo, she was lauded for bringing back company perks like free meals. But she soon made headlines as a controversial leader.

Just two months ago, Mayer sparked debate when she instructed remote employees to return to company offices, just as she reportedly had a private nursery built next to her office.

Perhaps Yahoo's new maternity leave decision was influenced by her own pregnancy. After Mayer, 37, gave birth to her first child in September, she took only two weeks off of work, igniting criticism that she set unrealistic expectations for working mothers.

"Marissa Mayer probably found that intentionally or not, her policies had created terrible morale. She has learned from it. And wow, she's like the parent who says, 'No you can't have ice cream, but I'm buying you a pony'," said Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of More Magazine.

Although Yahoo was one of the first tech companies to offer parking spots reserved for pregnant women, the firm is catching up to some of its Silicon Valley competitors and their generous family leave policies.

Mayer's previous employer, Google, offers 18 to 22 weeks of paid maternity leave, and up to seven weeks of paid paternity leave. Google, in Mountain View, Calif., also offers $500 of "Baby Bonding Bucks" for new parents.

Facebook, in Menlo Park, Calif., offers 16 weeks of paid leave to moms and dads plus $4,000 of "baby cash," Reuters reports.

Many parenting bloggers applauded Mayer for leading Yahoo in a more family-friendly direction.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Moms Report Extra Workplace Stress

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More women than men in the U.S. report higher levels of work stress, according to a new survey released Tuesday, with some women saying that extra stress came from countering the stereotypes surrounding mothers in the workplace.

The results of the annual survey by the American Psychological Association found that 32 percent of women said employers didn't provide enough opportunities for internal advancement, compared with 30 percent of men who said the same thing.

Out of the 1,501 employed adults surveyed online, 32 percent of the women said they received sufficient monetary compensation for their work, compared with 48 percent of employed men.  Women found another level of stress if they had families, even if it just came from a "stereotype threat," as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Pilar Clark, a blogger on the parenting website, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., the parent company of ABC News, said many women felt added stress from the minute they announced they were pregnant.

"It's ridiculous, but there is real fear of losing your job throughout a pregnancy that creates an enormous amount of stress and tension," said Clark, who lives in Lisle, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, and has two children.

While the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibit discrimination against expectant mothers or discrimination on the basis of gender, Clark said employers can still find ways to replace a mother on maternity leave.

"After all, the mother is not there to defend her position as a hardworking member of the team, and all colleagues may see -- especially if they aren't married or don't have children yet -- is someone slacking for a few months and creating a lot more work for them," Clark said.

Clark, 32, said when a new mother returns to the office, there may be "eye rolls" over what is deemed to be special treatment, which might include a flex schedule, telecommuting and leaving early to take care of a sick child.

"The moment you misstep ... it's chalked up to being the result of new distractions at home that obviously make you less efficient and functional in the workplace. Oftentimes, it's the furthest thing possible from the truth, and it's so demeaning.  As a new mother, I often worked longer hours than my colleagues, arriving at the office long before it was officially open for business, and then hopped on the computer again at night to make sure that all my bases were covered.  However, who sees that?  Apparently, no one wants to," said Clark.

"I know I stressed about breaking the news to my boss when I was pregnant with my first child, mainly fearing that I would be treated differently or all of sudden deemed less able to do my job on par with my nonpregnant self," Clark said.

When Clark became pregnant with her first child in 2006, she said she was allowed one month of maternity leave.  Her mother planned to take care of her new son during the day while her husband worked nearby.  Even though Clark's commute was more than two hours, she said she was "confident that things would run smoothly."

"And they did, but only on the home front end of things.  At work, I returned to resentment," she said.

Clark said she was initially allowed a flexible schedule, meaning she could work from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. instead of the usual 9 to 5.

"I was expected to be on call via cellphone at all times and automatically consider my flex schedule null and void in case of any meetings, no matter how spur of the moment the planning," she said.

But she said she was warned by her boss and human resources that if any colleagues protested her new working arrangements, deemed them "unfair" or questioned Clark's work ethic, they could be revoked.

"And of course, that happened.  Another woman I worked with found my schedule discriminatory against her, since she was neither married nor a parent.  And that was that," she said.  "My boss called me into his office one day, told me I couldn't be supermom and that I would have to choose: him and the team or my son."

Clark's asking -- and for a while getting -- a flex-time arrangement is not that typical.  According to the American Psychological Association's survey, only 37 percent of women reported regularly using employee benefits designed to help them meet demands outside the office, compared with almost half of men (46 percent); and only 38 percent of women said they regularly used flexible work arrangements, compared with 42 percent of men.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Deutsche Bank VP Sues for Being 'Mommy-Tracked'

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Deutsche Bank vice president is suing her employer for gender discrimination and retaliation related to her pregnancy, saying she was "mommy-tracked" for taking maternity leave.

Kelly Voelker, in her mid-40s, has been a vice president at the bank for 13 years, a tenure her lawyer says is "unheard of." She was recommended for a promotion within a few years after joining the company in November 1998 as a vice president with the bank's securities lending desk. But that recommendation was rejected despite consistently having the highest score in her performance reviews.

While Voelker sought a promotion for years, she said Deutsche Bank instead eventually demoted her, one of its few female vice presidents, solely because of her gender and recent childbirth.

In a statement, a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman said "we take these allegations very seriously and decline to comment further at this point."

Voelker said the bank externally hired equally qualified male candidates while her workplace had a "hostile and degrading" atmosphere towards women. The suit claims one of her managers frequently used vulgar sexual language and was aware a male director took clients to strip clubs.

When Voelker was about to go on maternity leave in 2003 with her first child, she said one superior "expressed his doubts" she would return to the company. The suit claims her supervisors, "never took her seriously because she was a woman starting a family, and this was seen as a huge negative within the company."

Voekler's attorney, Douglas Wigdor, said the tenure of a vice president at an investment bank is typically three to five years before being promoted to a director. Wigdor said all eight directors in the bank's securities lending division are male.

Maternity-related lawsuits are not new to the financial world. In August, a New York district court judge dismissed a class-action suit against Bloomberg L.P. that claimed it discriminated against pregnant mothers and those returning from leave.

In late 2009, when Voekler announced her need to go on maternity leave with her last child, the suit claims "her exemplary performance was further ignored and her male colleagues ensured her alienation through their actions on and around the trading desk."

When Voelker questioned a decision made by one of her superiors in fall 2009, another executive said, "I'd watch your step -- she's pregnant," the suit claims. In response, her supervisor replied, "No need to tell me. I've got one at home," referring to his pregnant wife.

The suit details instances in which her superiors handed assignments to a newly hired male peer, despite her successful completion of projects, before she went on maternity leave in December 2009.

When she returned in May 2010 to a "chilling welcome," according to the suit, a superior in the company "immediately" tried to persuade her to take on a more "flexible" reduced role, a request echoed by "various members of Deutsche Bank management."

Voelker voiced "strong objections" to the idea and reiterated her desire to become a director. But she said the company retaliated against her by promoting her male peer who continued to cover her arbitrage accounts, "greatly reducing her ability to attain high-revenue figures" for the desk.

The suit details other complaints, including a smaller bonus compared with those given to her male peers, reduced duties to a "vague and undefined marketing role" with "no clear career trajectory and absolutely zero visibility."

Voelker said her employer retracted its demotion and "retroactively claimed" she had the option to stay in her previous role after her attorney sent the bank a letter.

She is suing Deutsche Bank for unlawful and discriminatory conduct in violation of the Equal Pay Act and is seeking an award of monetary damages and attorneys' fees. As an eligible employee under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the bank's maternity leave policy, she said she was entitled to 16 weeks of protected leave, without having her role at risk upon her return.

The suit claims the bank's "unlawful and discriminatory actions constitute malicious, willful and wanton violations" of the New York City Human Rights Law.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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