Monday, June 1, 2009

Perks for Working Moms

So a topic that is at the forefront of my mind currently (due to an upcoming arrival in a few weeks) is moms who work outside of the home. My title indicates that all moms are not working moms, and that just simply isn't true. However, for the sake of brevity in my title, I chose one to represent what many people call moms who hold jobs/careers aside from the mom duties they perform.

There are obviously some employers who make being a parent easier than others. Some are very flexible and accommodating while others seem to be completely heartless when it comes to matters of the family. I have been fortunate to work for two companies during my two pregnancies that are quite understanding and offer aid to new moms as well as bosses who were quite lenient when it came to working with parenting issues that arise.

Below are some perks offered by different employers to make being a mom at the office a bit more bearable.

Flexible Work Schedules: This is one of the more common among mommy-friendly companies. Many companies offer options for returning to the tasks of one's job such as flexible or compressed work schedules, job-sharing, and telecommuting options.

Paid Leave: This is another one that many companies offer, but is not a given for all moms-to-be. The states of California and NJ offer 6 weeks of paid time off for new moms, and Washington DC allows new moms to be paid via filing disability through the city, but otherwise, this one is determined by the employer in question. While FMLA guidelines allow for 12 weeks to be taken off for the birth or adoption of a child without retribution for the time missed, it does not assure that the time will be paid by the employer...that is simply the employer's call. Some offer full pay while on maternity leave, some offer partial pay while on leave. Some offer a discounted pay rate (like 2/3 your regular pay rate) while still withdrawing the monies used for benefits, such as insurance, which must be kept throughout this time.

Childcare Options: Some employers offer on-site childcare for employees, which is a wonderful option that you know will work with your personal work schedule as well as help you avoid driving out of the way to get to a daycare for your children. In addition to on-site care, some offer back-up childcare in case yours falls through and school's out childcare for school-aged children who often get holidays and breaks not observed by the employers, not to mention summer vacations. And still other employers offer discounts or reimbursements for childcare to offset some of the cost of having to have someone else watch your children while you are at work. These can all be invaluable services for working moms.

Adoption and Fertility Assistance: Some companies even provide perks that assist those who want to be parents but cannot to so naturally by providing adoption assistance (in the form of both time and money) as well as fertility assistance (in the form of both time and money).

Gifts for Newborns: Some employers will give gifts to the families of newborns that can range anywhere from keepsakes (like a silver spoon or cup) to money to baby supplies like wipes, clothes, diapers, etc.

Breastfeeding Support: Employers are most always willing to accommodate nursing moms within reasonable limits. However, some employers definitions of what is reasonable is different than my own. For instance, please don't insist that I must express breastmilk within the "comfort" and "privacy" of a restroom. That's just not sanitary in my opinion unless it is a never-used restroom that is maintained on a regular basis. I would still balk at this though. Some places of employment do offer private rooms, many even complete with refrigerators, for use for pumping breastmilk. A few even offer lactation support for their working moms.

On Site Services: There are also employers who make it easier for the working parent to take care of errands while at work so as not to subtract from family time or require time off of work. Some offer dry cleaning, credit unions, convenience stores, movie rentals, salon services, take-out food, and other amenities that allow for less time to be rushed upon leaving work to go home.

Special Perks: There are a few businesses that go above and beyond when catering to their working parents. For instance, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta offers up to $10,000 to assist in the payment of infertility treatments. American Express allows employees to buy vacation days above what they have earned using pre-tax dollars. And Microsoft provides on-site mammography tests for all female employees.

Working Mother Magazine created a 2008 list for the 100 Best Companies to work for as a working mom. You can view the complete list in alphabetical order along with details here.

What about you? What is the best perk or worst treatment you've received as a working-away-from-home mom?

Photo credit: Wondermonkey2k & beckycheek

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