Father Sues Employer Over Paternity Leave and Wins

I admire this guy. I really do. As I plan for my maternity leave, it is hard to decide what to do. I have read a lot of articles over the last few months about maternity and paternity leave, and I am still aghast that we have such shitty laws in the US, and that larger (and smaller) companies are so slowly coming around to supporting their pregnant workforce (and father’s as well). It feels like a slap in the face.

Regardless of what the laws are for the US, I have found it to be quite frustrating to navigate the entire process. Somehow no one tells you the steps to take, you have to navigate on your own, and talk to other women who recently delivered babies to see how it worked (or didn’t) for them. Did they deliver early? Did they go on reduced hours before delivery? Did that start short-term disability? What are your rights and are those at your workplace an advocate for you, or do they only answer your questions, and not attempt to help you understand the complexity of the situation. Things like: if you do not take the right steps, you can basically eat up all your vacation days before you deliver, and then have to take unpaid leave after your short-term disability is done. Crazy that they make it so complicated for women. Is it just about money?

So this guy works for CNN and sued them based on their parental leave policy. He won both for paternity and maternity leave AND he kept his job. Somehow I feel like it might be an anomaly — that most individuals that would sue their company would end up out of a job. He took a risk and he won. Think of all the other individuals at his company that will benefit because he spoke out. We all need more that will speak out. Husband’s for their wives, wives for their husbands, and those that might be in same-sex marriages or partnerships. Parents deserve to be home with their new babies to bond, and get the hang of how to take care of a little one.

What do you think?

Best vacation reply? Or not?

The dilemma of going on vacation — coming back from vacation to an inbox full of emails. I know how many emails I get on a daily basis, and multiply that by the number of days away makes for a long time to catch up when you return. I hate to think about all the emails I will have when I return from vacation before I go on vacation.

Daimler has this policy that I found after reading this article “The Fundamental Unfairness of the Vacation Auto Reply” for when their employees go on vacation:

“The car and truck maker has implemented a new program that allows employees to set their email software to automatically delete incoming emails while they are on vacation.

When an email is sent, the program, which is called “Mail on Holiday,” issues a reply to the sender that the person is out of the office and that the email will be deleted, while also offering the contact information of another employee for pressing matters.”

That would be amazing. What baffles me a bit though is it says offering contact information of another employee for pressing matters. I am a bit of a customer service buff. So is that like writing to a store that happens to be closed and their auto reply is to have you send them an email during the hours they are open? What is the person who emailed the individual on vacation supposed to do if they do not have a pressing matter? Make a reminder for themselves to contact them again a week later? Feels like it would be amazing for the individual on vacation, but not such great service for the person who needs their help.

Separate from needing help, what about organization emails that share pertinent information? Those I assume would get deleted as well? That does not make sense to me either. Part of sending a mass message like that is to inform a large group of people at one time. The sender assumes the recipient will read the information and consume it at their convenience. It is up to the recipient to retain that information, but if you were on vacation and had “Mail on Holiday” you might miss out on necessary information to do your job.

What do you think?

Do you need a vacation intervention?

Americans, we have a problem. We do not know how to stop. I am one of the biggest offenders. We do not know how to truly go on vacation. This CNN article from last fall “Americans taking fewest vacation days in four decades” is quite scary. In 2013 Americans were only taking an average of 16 days off a year (about 3 weeks). For someone who has not been at my company long enough to accrue a large number of hours that does not seem so bad, but when you compare it to the average of other countries where Austria has 35 days a year (7 weeks of vacation or almost 2 months).

This is not a new topic, but it is one that I think as Americans we need to constantly revisit. Why do we give up our vacation? Why do we check into work while we are supposed to be relaxing and recouping from our day-to-day world? Some folks want to show their commitment to their jobs and company (I do not have that problem, my commitment shows regardless if I take some time off). Others might be addicted to the buzz of the distraction. My reason? It takes to damn long to catch up on emails and work when you get back from vacation. You need a vacation to catch up after being on vacation. Often it is easier to keep your inbox cleaned up, clear out the junk for a bit of time while you are away. So maybe I have a problem.

When start-ups and tech companies are granting unlimited vacation I think — amazing! Yet, then I also wonder, will you have so much work and feel so strapped to get shit done, that you never take it? Having never worked for a company with an unlimited vacation policy, how do they make sure folks play fair and use the time in a balanced way? Have we become over productive as a society? Or is the rise of unlimited vacation policies a way for companies to have their employees work hard and play hard. It has to be much hard to manage when a company grows to the thousands to hundreds of thousands. Does it only work for smaller companies? How would such a policy feel to you?

I am worried about myself and my fellow Americans. Do we take enough time for our spouse? Our kids? Our larger family? Do we explore new cultures? Do we go and sit our butts on a sandy beach and fall asleep never worrying what is happening back at work? Or do we go on vacation and constantly check in? Never turning off our mobile devices and never truly focused on the rest we so grossly deserve. America needs an intervention!

This video from Visa, while an ad to go and spend money on your Visa card is spot on.

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Running, Vacation, and Turtles

Happy Monday! I just got back from a week of vacation and so rolling out of bed this morning was not easy. I had a wonderfully relaxing time. Sleeping, eating, floating on the lake, waterskiing, playing with my niece and nephew, having good conversations with family, meeting new people, time with my hubby, and getting upgraded to First Class on my flight home. All good. All fun. All on vacation. One of the things I loved were my runs while away. I have been thinking about running a 1/2 marathon. Currently I am running 6-8 miles a day. On the treadmill. While reading. It makes me a bit apprehensive when I have no choice but to run outside. What will it be like? Will I be able to handle just listening to music, and not reading while I run? I was happily surprised this time. I never stopped. I never got tired. I ran mostly 7 miles a day, with hills, 90 degree temperatures plus humidity.

view from my run

view from run #2

What made me do it? My Nike+ app. The Nike+ app lets you listen to music while running, tracks your run, and talks to you when you hit each mile marker. I know. I know. It is a simple thing an app can do. I just have never used it. It changed my run. The app told me how fast I was going and how far I had gone and knowing that pushed me to run harder and faster. Last summer without the app, I found I would randomly walk, or feel tired. This time having the ability to compete against myself meant I ran better. Thank you, Nike.

baby turtle run day 1

medium-sized turtle day #6

These are the turtles I found in the middle of the road during my run. On my second loop they were not to be found and no smooshed turtle either, so they had crossed the road unharmed. So grateful for my runs, my view, my music, and my Nike+ app!

Have a great week!