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Dear Pat: Last month, I interviewed for a new position, and have now received a verbal offer. Meanwhile, my husband and I have not ruled out having a second child in the near future.
My concern is that the new employer’s maternity leave policy has the standard 6 week/8 week Short-Term Disability leave, whereas my current employer has a full 12-week paid leave, which allows me to keep my accumulated vacation hours intact.
Do you have any recommendations about how to negotiate maternity leave going into a new position? Or should I? I’ve read a few blogs and articles that say it is better to just ask for more vacation time, but I’m wondering if you have different negotiation advice. I don’t want to blow it. Cautious Carina
Dear Cautious: An employer who asks you about your pregnancy plans is breaking the law. You, as an interviewee volunteering the information, are not.
Even so, I advise against it. Pregnancy bias and discrimination still exist, illegal or not.
You know that my work is about advocating and advising women to negotiate salary and other work terms after a firm new-job offer, as well as on the job. Yet asking for a better-than-policy maternity leave before you’re pregnant and as part of your new-hire package is risky. Especially compared with your other options.
My advice to you is, with your firm job offer in hand, you can now negotiate all the other terms that could support a longer maternity leave. Top priority: a top-pay salary.
Making a lateral move to a new employer should bring you no less than a 10% salary increase over your current job. And depending on a variety of factors, it’s possible to get much, much more.
(Vacation time, too, has value−2% of salary per week−so I agree with that advice.)
So now is the time to negotiate for the high end of the market value of your position. (Remember, their first offer is never the best offer, and negotiating your pay package is expected in a new job offer scenario.)
Then, at the point when it’s time to negotiate maternity leave while on the job, you’ll have a history of working there several months or more. This puts you in a stronger position to negotiate “supplemental leave” (a term from Max Your Maternity Leave), which is essentially paid for−or partially paid for−by what you negotiated as part of your work terms.