Our time off from work is precious — but does one reason for missing work trump others?
Imagine accruing and saving all your vacation days for something like an actual vacation, long weekend, or staycation at home. Everyone who works is entitled to time off from work to recharge, regroup, and have a reset so they can be a better and more productive worker. However, also imagine working at an office where a co-worker is pregnant. Imagine there is no paid maternity leave policy for your co-worker. Imagine all your other officemates pressuring you into “donating” your PTO to your pregnant co-worker. For more and more workers, this is becoming a reality.
A woman posted on Reddit’s “Am I The A—Hole?” thread to get opinions on if it was OK for her to refuse to donate her earned time off to her pregnant co-worker after receiving backlash from others in the office.
“I (24F) work as tech support in a telecom company,” she wrote on the thread, which now has over 6,000 upvotes and over 1,000 comments. “They don’t provide paid maternity leave but ‘fundraises’ whenever a pregnant women needs time off. We all get 2 weeks vacation 5 sick days and 3 PTO but my pregnant coworker used up some of it already.”
Due to no maternity policy at the telecom company, the boss suggested that co-workers work together to donate some of their own PTO to their pregnant friend. However, for the woman asking Reddit for advice, she doesn’t have much vacation to give up and wants to save it for her own time.
“So my boss asked everyone to ‘donate’ and most people have given a day but I used up a week of vacation and PTO days already and I’m leaving in July to visit family and booked a full week (9 days if you count the weekends),” she explained.
Due to the fact that this woman is single with no kids, her co-workers feel she should be more than willing to give up her vacations days. As if that has any bearing on whether she deserves some time off or not? She also explained that she doesn’t even know her pregnant co-worker on a personal level. “[Would I be the a**hole] if I don’t ‘donate’ my vacation days?” she asked.
The response was overwhelmingly on the side of the woman wondering if she was in the wrong. “Another example of employers not giving a crap about employees. You earned those days, you deserve those days, so YOU use those days,” the top comment stated.
Another user echoed, “And another example of employers re-directing the blame for the situation. It’s disgusting that companies convince people that the right thing to do is for the people that earn the least should give up the most.”
This “trend” of co-workers donating their paid time off to their pregnant co-workers is not heartwarming. It’s disheartening. The United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee paid, job-protected leave for new parents.
While there is so much wrong with the entire situation, the more glaring oversight seems to be that the company these people work for does not provide any paid maternity leave to begin with.
Roughly 60% of U.S. workers are eligible for unpaid leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but especially in this financial climate, this is not an affordable option for families.
In another disturbing fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only about 15% of U.S. workers have access to paid parental leave, either through their home states or employers. This means that 1 out of 4 new moms go back to work within two weeks of giving birth. And anyone who has given birth before or taken in a newborn child can firmly agree that two weeks is nothing. This also goes against nearly every professional recommendation from the medical community.
To add insult to injury, research shows that women typically need (and use) more of these days than men do, typically due to more moms using PTO to take care of sick children than dads. So if “pooling” PTO becomes a bigger trend in companies, this will only exacerbate already glaring gender inequalities at work.
The bottom line? This woman is justified in keeping her PTO for herself. The only “person” in the wrong is the corporation who is having their employees do any “sacrificing” at all when they should be giving fair and reasonable parental leave. The other a—hole in this situation? The United States of America.