I just completed a survey sent to me by Victorian Women Lawyers and I was surprised. As I completed the questionnaire, I was filled with rage towards my firm. I didn’t realise I was so angry and bitter.
No, I didn’t get paid maternity leave. Not one red cent. Only partners at my old firm are entitled to paid maternity leave (although to do the firm justice, some had fought for other employees to receive paid maternity leave). I had to go on maternity leave much earlier than expected as a result of medical advice. So now we are struggling financially.
I have realised that I feel very angry because I don’t feel like I was appreciated by my firm. If I had received paid maternity leave, I probably would have returned to my firm (out of a sense of obligation and loyalty, if nothing else). As it is – well, you fill in the gaps! If they had actually wanted me back after I had my baby, they would have made approaches to me to see what they could do to make my return to work easier. No, they haven’t done that either. However, I didn’t even get a bunch of flowers from the wider firm after I had my baby, so I shouldn’t be surprised. I don’t think they’re going to bother with more important niceties when they can’t even manage a bunch of flowers. If you want loyalty and commitment from your employee, the best way is to treat her with care, respect and loyalty in return. But that seems too hard for workplaces these days – chew ’em up, spit ’em out, it doesn’t matter.
I would be unlikely to be accepted back at work on a part time basis because of the way in which my section operated (despite the willingness of colleagues on my level to job share with me). And the hours are not ideal for family life either, even if you are only part time. What happened to reasonable work hours? They seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur.
Modern technology has only made things worse. Now you can be contacted on your Blackberry while on holiday with your family in Queensland or on your mobile in the middle of the night at home – there are no limits as to when and how work intrudes on family life.
And as for worries about childcare…see my previous post on that topic. I feel like everything is working against me, and I’d just be better off opting out of law firms altogether and doing something else.
What a great idea! I think I’ll just go do exactly that.