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I started a new job a few months ago, 3 months after I had my first baby. My new team generously waited for me to finish maternity leave before my start date (as I had interviewed with them when I was starting my 9th month).

Due to policies in the state where we live, I'm eligible for 8 weeks paid family leave anytime within the first year of the baby's birth day. My spouse & I have been dreaming for a long time about going on a vacation abroad, but I didn't have enough days off from work (and it wasn't worth going for a short time). But now that I have this family leave time, we stole a glance at tickets & found good prices, so on a whim we booked it for 4 weeks towards the end of the year. [EDIT: To be clear, we will be taking the baby with us!] I haven't discussed it with my manager yet b/c it would be awkward asking for a long vacation when I'm still so new to the team. I planned to ask when it gets closer. It would be tricky for him to turn the request down b/c I'm officially eligible for this time off from the state. In a worst case scenario where my manager would be very upset or the timing wouldn't work, we agreed we'd move the tickets to a different time. I also plan to forfeit the remaining 4 weeks of family leave because I didn't want it to look bad to take off so much within my first year on a job.

However... we just discovered that I'm unexpectedly pregnant again. (Yes, these things happen, and no, it's not always people's fault). Which means I'll need to take maternity leave again next year, about 11 months after starting this job.

I'm not so concerned about the maternity leave, but I am concerned about how it would look to take off both 4 weeks vacation AND maternity leave within my first year. I don't want my new manager to think that I'm not committed to my job. However, with a 2nd baby on the way, this specific vacation is a "now or never", since we can't do that type of trip with 2 babies in tow.

Here's what I see as my options (or open to hearing more options if I missed something!).

  1. Ask for the 4 weeks vacation without mentioning the pregnancy. Later on, when I hit 5-6 months, tell my manager about the pregnancy and that I'll need to take maternity leave. It'll be awkward because 5-6 months lands out right around the time that I'll be out on vacation, but hopefully they'd see it as 2 unrelated requests.

  2. When I ask for the 4 weeks vacation, tell my manager about the pregnancy, even though it'll still be very early on to share that news. Ask the manager if it's okay to do the vacation even though I'll need maternity next year. Best option for transparency but also the riskiest, since I don't want him to say I can't take vacation.

Which is the best way to deal with it? Are there any other options that I haven't thought of?

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  • Would you be comfortable naming the state? It would be useful to see the exact state law to see if there is anything in it about how much family leave you're entitled to take at once.
    – BSMP
    Jun 23 at 3:21
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    your state alows you to take 8 weeks of family leave to take vacations?
    – Tiger Guy
    Jun 23 at 3:41
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    This will be unpopular.Taking family leave to take care of your child within the first year, and using it to take a vacation, doesn’t seem to be the intent of the family leave. However, how you spend that leave that is guaranteed to you, is entirely up to you. Your manager is going to have to accept that you have been granted the right to the family and maturity leave. You probably should be straight forward with regards to the pregnancy, so your team and manager, can make the appropriate adjustments and preparations.Do I agree with the use of your leave for a vacation: Nope, I actually don’t.
    – Donald
    Jun 23 at 4:26
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    Why are you calling this "vacation"? You are taking family leave. It's nobody's business where you spend it. Personally, I would encourage you to take all the leave that you are entitled to. You children are more important than work and if they fire you for 8 weeks family leave and then maternity leave it seems unlikely that they wouldn't fire you if you take 4 weeks family leave and then maternity leave.
    – Roland
    Jun 23 at 5:42
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    @TigerGuy Both California and New York have paid family leave that can be used for time to bond with the child, not just dealing with medical issues/lack of childcare/etc.
    – BSMP
    Jun 23 at 8:56

1 Answer 1

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I'm eligible for 8 weeks paid family leave anytime within the first year of the baby's birth day.

Kids are special and family is important. Over the next few decades, you'll have likely had many jobs come and go, but your family will still be there. Take the family leave!

I think it's best to be honest and open, and try to be flexible. If you're thinking of taking a 4-week block in Q4, and plan to bring the baby with you, maybe it's not important to share trip details (unless they ask) and just say you're going to spend the month with your family.

I do, however, think that it will not look great to use "family leave" time to take a 4-week vacation without the kid (it wasn't clear if it's just you and spouse). If this is the case (just you and spouse), it's easy to imagine co-workers getting the wrong idea. I'm not saying it would be fair, but I've seen this kind of thing happen in the workplace.

EDIT: adding a reply to this:

I also plan to forfeit the remaining 4 weeks of family leave because I didn't want it to look bad to take off so much within my first year on a job.

While I understand your position (having been in this exact spot myself as a dad, two times, each with a different employer), I cannot emphasize how much I disagree with it. I get it, in the moment it feels like the right decision. But I'll share that in hindsight I totally, completely regret making that decision, both times. And I've heard the same from peers who did the same thing, over time they all regret it too.

That early time is special, won't happen again (with that kid). A few years on, it is difficult to imagine anyone being able to even remember what they did at work when they cut the available leave short. But you'll remember things from being with your child.

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    "maybe it's not important to share trip details (unless they ask)" It's never important to share the trip details. That's none of the employers business. If you're entitled to leave, that's it. Whatever you do during that time is up to you, not the employer.
    – Dnomyar96
    Jun 23 at 5:26
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    Yes, you are allowed to take leave! You are allowed a holiday! You're entitled to maternity leave when that comes round. I assume you are in the USA (so the latter point might be moot) but in Europe people wouldn't be batting an eyelid at taking that much leave.
    – R Davies
    Jun 23 at 10:43
  • Thanks! Yes, we would definitely bring the kid with us on the trip. And to be clear, our "vacation" also involves visiting relatives so it's not far fetched at all to say the goal is to spend time with family.
    – giraffe36
    Jun 23 at 12:14
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    @giraffe36 ok, bringing kid and going to visit family makes the whole thing look a lot better. And of course it's just as fair for you either way, the rules say you can do whatever you want during parental leave. But your original question expresses concern about the optics, perception; how are others are going to view this trip? And that sounds like the primary aspect of the question – not whether state law says it's ok, but: how will this look? which actions can you take that won't reflect poorly on you? So to that, yeah, bringing the new baby to meet other family is great.
    – Kaan
    Jun 23 at 15:09
  • @giraffe36 I added to my answer re: your plan to forfeit the remaining 4 weeks of family leave. tl;dr – don't do it! ;-)
    – Kaan
    Jun 23 at 15:18

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