Should you negotiate maternity leave in a new job offer situation? This Q & A suggests an alternate approach that’s lower risk.
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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
Illegal or not, pregnancy bias and discrimination still exist, so I think there’s reason to be cautious about bringing up maternity leave at this juncture.
Especially when you’re not even yet pregnant.
(For readers who are pregnant and interviewing for a new job, keep reading; my advice applies to you, too.)
Based on my 25+ years of advising career women, I’m suggesting that 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.
An Alternative Approach to Negotiating Maternity Leave in a New Job Offer
My advice to you is, with your firm job offer in hand, you now negotiate all the other work terms that could support a longer maternity leave.
Top priority: a top-pay salary. (And while you’re at it, a telecommuting arrangement of at least one day a week.)
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. Enough to fund a longer maternity leave.
Vacation time off and other PTO have value, as well—2% of salary per week—so I agree with that advice, yet reaching agreement on the highest justifiable salary remains the priority.
So instead of bringing up maternity leave, now is the time to negotiate for the high end of the market value salary of the job position being offered.
Remember, their first offer is never their best offer, and negotiating your pay package is expected in a new job offer scenario.
That said, negotiating maternity leave terms is not typical in a new job offer scenario, raising the risk of derailing an otherwise fairly predictable process.
Get yourself hired at the best possible salary. 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 for a longer-than-policy “supplemental leave” (see Max Your Maternity Leave for how to negotiate that), which is essentially paid for—or partially paid for—by what you negotiated as part of your new job offer salary.
Of course, the choice is yours to negotiate for both the ambitious salary goal and maternity leave terms; it’s just not the approach I recommend given hiring practice realities.
Instead, going for top dollar then demonstrating your value in your job performance positions you up to craft the custom maternity leave and job flexibility options you want down the road.