Help Mother's spend more time with their babies, Improve the VA Maternity Leave Policy

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Hello All

My name is Jenny Sweeney and I am a current employee at the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center.  I have some concerns about our maternity leave process and policy.  In my explanation I will include two videos, three articles, and part of our Master Agreement that states the policy.

 My idea is to essentially change how maternity leave works.  Right now it’s only covered under FMLA and Leave without Pay.  I experienced this last year when I was on Maternity Leave that I had to exhaust all of my leave before the Voluntary Leave Program would kick in, then if I needed extra it would be LWOP.  In the first year of having a newborn at minimum will have 6 well child visits if not more due to possible sickness or any complications.  I hardly had any time when I came back to make these visits and I was negative 100+ sick leave hours.  I also wouldn’t have qualified for FMLA at that time if I hadn’t had prior military experience.  Having to leave a newborn child too early can cause failure to thrive, postpartum depression, even suicide in new mothers.  This causes financial stress on top of everything else going on.  I went a month without pay because my time was put in wrong.  It was something else I had to worry about and not being able to provide for my newborn child.  An average individual cannot afford to be LWOP in general, let alone after a child is needed to provide for.   I have also attached two videos that explain some points better than I can, an article that shows what countries around the world do for maternity leave, an article regarding injury prevention, an article on the effects of breastfeeding, and an article on postpartum depression.  Post partum depression is the second leading cause of suicide in women. 

All five branches of the military provide 12 weeks (convalescent leave) to mothers after birth. The Veteran's Affairs is essentially apart of DOD and provides for the Veterans.  Most of the employees that work in the VA are Veterans.

http://www.marines.mil/News/Messages/Messages-Display/Article/897768/marine-corps-maternity-and-convalescent-leave-policy-update/

http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=93290

http://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2016/03/01/army-s-new-maternity-leave-policy-is-now-official/

http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/652799/af-implements-new-dod-wide-changes-to-maternity-leave/

http://allhands.coastguard.dodlive.mil/2016/11/04/parental-leave-for-coast-guard-families-time-for-the-family-to-bond/

 It seems having a child is more of a hardship than a joyful experience.  We are providing the future work force and should have the time covered to take care of them properly.  Even if certain things were switched around to where we wouldn’t have to exhaust all of our leave before the Voluntary Leave Program hours were applied, if we were able to use those first and go from there.  I’m speaking for new mothers and mothers having more kids, that we shouldn’t have to worry if we are going to get paid or not and be able to provide for our children.  Most women these days are single mothers or the breadwinners of the house and need stable income.

Mothers should be able to have paid time off, or at least use donated leave first before having to exhaust all of theirs after the birth of a child.

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_marie_slaughter_can_we_all_have_it_all?language=en

https://www.ted.com/talks/jessica_shortall_how_america_fails_new_parents_and_their_babies

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/08/13/the-world-is-getting-better-at-paid-maternity-leave-the-u-s-is-not/?utm_term=.d9085ed4be55

http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/22/6/442

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3387873/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4400242/

 

 

https://www.va.gov/LMR/docs/Master_Agreement_between_DVA_and_AFGE-fin_52311.pdf

Section 16 - Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

A.         Maternity and Paternity Leave

1.         Under FMLA and this Agreement, bargaining unit employees are

entitled to 16 weeks of LWOP during any 12 month period for the

following reasons:

a.         Birth of a son or daughter and the care of such son or daughter; and,

b.         Placement of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care.

2.         Supervisors are encouraged to approve additional leave as

circumstances warrant.

I can provide more information if needed, just thought I’d start with this. Thank you for your time in this matter and hope we can make a change.

 



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