Parental Leave Guide for Parents

I went back to work after being out for six months. A lot of things stayed the same, but a lot of things changed, including how I felt about myself. This post details my experience as well as a number of tips that a returning parent your return easier. If this sounds familiar, I was fortunate to speak on this topic at Lead Developer Austin in November 2019, and you can also watch the 10-minute presentation version of this information. 10 minutes is a very short period of time, so please consider this the extended “Everything you need to know about managing your parental leave” version. There’s plenty to say about supporting parents on parental leave, but that’s outside the scope of this post.

Before Parental Leave Begins

There is a lot to do before going out on leave, and this can be one of the most stressful, uncertain times for everyone involved. With these tips, hopefully you can mitigate some of that uncertainty with a clear plan.

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I’m Grateful for My Parental Leave

I am so grateful that I’ve been able to spend six months with my family taking parental leave for the birth of my daughter.

I think it’s important to pause for a moment and acknowledge the fact that I’m highly privileged to receive this much parental leave in the United States. Most people do not receive anything comparable. The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave for mothers, but only if they work for a company with 50 or more employees. In California, we have Paid Family Leave (PFL), which provides 6 weeks of partially paid leave. A few other states have similar protections, but it’s not enough for families to recover from the trauma of childbirth and to be in the right mental and physical health before returning to work. I’m grateful that a number of tech companies are leading the pack in terms of parental leave, and very fortunate that I’m able to work in this industry, but hopefully one’s ability to care for their child or partner will not be dependent on their employer in the future.

So, with all that said, I’m very grateful that my employer provides six months of parental leave to either parent, for childbirth or adoption. It’s an amazing benefit.

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