Emily Manley, 30, probably thought she was making the best decision of her life when she decided to switch jobs during her maternity leave. Unfortunately, the young mom had no idea about the mess she was getting herself into.
The issue of maternity leave itself has been a controversial one in the US, especially when in European countries the considerable amount of relaxation is given to new parents that include many parental leave benefits including a paid leave. This woman in Iowa, US, however, had an altogether different experience from her maternal leave. Manley, 30, with a prospect of a better future in mind, made a decision of switching her job after she received a good offer from one of the old employers with much better employee benefits. However, the new mom had no idea that her decision is going to cost her thousands of dollars.
Manley, who is a proud mom of her newborn son Jettson says she had no idea that her decision of switching jobs during maternity leave would land her in hot water. When the time of the birth was near, Manley knew beforehand that her company had no concept of giving paid maternity leaves, so, Manley decided to make use of the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles some employees to up to 12 workweeks of leave in a fiscal year. But she was informed that for her to utilize this Leave Act, Manley had to use all of her paid time off offered by the company. Manley told Yahoo, “As part of FMLA you are required to take all of your [paid time off] prior to the unpaid portion of leave.” Additionally she told WHO: “They had a policy that you had to burn through all of your [paid time off] prior to taking leave, so really you didn’t have a choice, you had to take it all before you could start leave.” So Manley availed her paid time off from her company for about a month and then made use of her FMLA leave.
Manley reportedly got a new job offer during her time off. According to Manley, the job offered much better employee benefits and thinking about her baby's future, she wasted no time in taking up the offer. She told Yahoo, “While on leave I saw an opening with a company that I had worked with previously and they offer benefits that are much better for a young family. This new position is healthier for me, our son and my family.” For the purpose, Manley submitted her two weeks notice to her company and started working for the new company.
In no time after starting her new job, Manley received an official notice from her former employee, asking her to pay $2,600 fine. Manley was given an ultimatum of one month to submit the fine. The distressed mom told WHO, “It’s a lot of money to us. We did our best to save when we got pregnant, knowing that we had bills coming and did our best for that, but it’s kind of hard to prepare. I can understand the company’s point of view, but at the same time, to do that to a young family is really difficult to be on the other side of it.”
Talking to a media outlet, Manley said that she is left with no option other than paying the amount because if she goes to the court for help, any legal action would cost her more than the bill she has to pay already. However, the officials of Manley's former company claim that they have given Manley sufficient time to pay the fine. They claimed that the deadline is completely fair given the length of time that has already elapsed since first starting maternity leave that was covered by FMLA.
Talking to media channels, Manley said that she is not telling her story to the world to gain sympathy or garner any attention. The sole purpose for her sharing her harrowing experience with the world is to warn young moms out there to be careful when dealing with such matters because what they think won't happen might happen to them in future. She said, “I’m not here to ask for money or give a poor me story, I am sharing my story in hopes if other women are out there on leave and looking for a new job, and don’t think that their company would do this — they might!” Having a child really makes you think about your job, what’s important in life and what you want out of a job. In the end, I’m glad I switched and now work for a wonderful company that respects me as a mother and employee.”