I really think that maternity benefits, specifically leave, should be standardised for all employed women. There are huge differences in the workplace as to the leave allowances provided by employers. I know that maternity leave has now been extended to 9 months but here we are just talking about statutory leave and pay not how employers, as individuals, offer different benefits to their employees.
At clinic on Thursday I saw a woman who I booked 6 weeks ago, she is a bus driver. When I booked her the company had taken her off driving duties and given her ‘desk duties’, sensible, caring company I decided. On Thursday I asked her what was happening to her now at work, I’m on Maternity Leave she replied. I immediately thought that, far from being a caring company, they were taking advantage of her pregnancy and seeking to save themselves money by forcing her to take leave too early. When I became all righteous about it she told me that what they have done is sign her off, on full pay, until she gives birth at which point her paid maternity leave starts, for a year. Wonderful for her, I would have thought an economic problem for the company, and a real kick in the guts for all those women who have equally demanding, often more physical jobs than her but who have to struggle on for as long as possible in their pregnancies so they can spend more time at home afterwards with their new baby. Here I’m thinking of examples like midwives who carry on working right until the end, I have literally been working with midwives whose waters have gone whilst they have been working and who have given birth before their shift ends. I’m not overly keen on ‘guidelines’ and dictates from quangos but I am thinking that perhaps there should be more equality as far as benefits to pregnant workers, every other ‘perk’ seems to be categorized and valued, why not deviations from a standardised practice?