Co-Workers Donating Vacation Time To New Moms Isn't Heartwarming -- It's Horrifying

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Zinkevych/Getty Images

A new workplace trend is for co-workers to donate vacation time so new moms can have paid leave

This week, Good Morning America profiled moms who were able to take a paid maternity leave thanks to the generosity of co-workers who donated their vacation days. The story is being billed as some cool workplace trend, but in reality, it’s just a sad commentary on how moms are treated in “the greatest country on earth.”

One of the moms, Angela Hughes, says she was able to take a total of eight paid weeks thanks to co-workers’ donations. Hughes took four weeks of the time right after her c-section, which happened two months early. “It took a weight off of my family’s shoulder,” she says. “Having a baby is a huge adjustment anyway but having a premature baby, my emotions were all over the place.”

She took the other four weeks once her premature baby girl was discharged from the NICU. So although her co-workers made sure she had paid time off, Hughes was still in the office four weeks after a c-section. My doctor told me not to even drive until two weeks after mine. I also bled for more than nine weeks after both of my surgical births. Just saying.

Let’s get one thing straight right now; co-workers donating their vacations so a mom can have paid weeks off to bond with her baby and recover from childbirth isn’t cutesy. This isn’t sweet and heartwarming, nor is it something we should all rush to do ourselves because honestly, it’s sad. It’s pathetic. Moms in the richest country in the world shouldn’t have to struggle to cobble together a few weeks of paid leave so they don’t get behind on bills while caring for their infants and recovering from giving birth. No co-worker should be sacrificing their own much-needed time off (though their generosity is commendable) in order to help a new mom, but this is where we are.

In case anyone forgot, the U.S. is the only first-world country without mandated paid parental leave, which our nation could 100 percent afford if the powers that be decided it was worthy. Also worth noting? The political party that claims to be all about fetuses and family values is also the one that refuses to support a workable plan for women in this country to take paid time off after giving birth. No, Ivanka — suggesting we pull from our social security doesn’t count.

LOL, I mean, what fresh bullshit is this? Do people have to donate time off to Bill in Accounting so he can recover from his gall bladder procedure? Absolutely not, because my dude gets adequate days off to recover, unlike some pesky mom having a kid. Give birth and you’re largely screwed unless you work for a very progressive company or are independently wealthy. Here in the good ol’ U-S-of-A, we like our postpartum moms back in their ergonomic office chairs while still bleeding into a pad the size of a phone book and missing their tiny babies at daycare. Oh, and don’t forget, begging people to clear a small conference room so they can pump. SUCH FUN.

Twitter was pretty much aghast at the idea.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of moms with kids under age 18 participate in the workforce with three-quarters of them working full-time jobs. Additionally, in 40 percent of households, moms are the primary or sole earner. Employers talk about “work-life balance” for women, but this isn’t about that. It isn’t about wanting to get out an hour early sometimes to get a kid to soccer practice. It’s not the same as needing a more flexible schedule. This is about millions of women who need adequate (paid) recovery time from a major bodily upheaval. That’s not about work-life balance, that’s simply a thing that needs to happen.

But until that moment when politicians pull their heads out of their asses, we’re left to crowd-fund maternity leave. Are we great again yet, America?

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