Maternity leave in the United States is under constant scrutiny, and one pregnant woman’s story highlights the need to discuss firmer boundaries surrounding some employer expectations.
As reported by Essential Baby, a woman recently took to the Reddit group “Baby Bumps” to solicit advice about her boss continuing to contact her while she was on maternity leave.
The woman, whose user name is being withheld, posted that her boss’s constant interference started on the first day of maternity leave, when the boss told her she could come into work if she was “bored”:
The woman wrote:
Yesterday and today, my boss has been texting me like crazy. Yesterday she text [sic] and said if I’m bored I can come in and work the afternoon.
Essential Baby explained that when the pregnant woman forgot to respond to her boss because she had company visiting, she awoke the next day to “passive-aggressive” messages on her phone. The boss reportedly wrote:
Thanks for not texting back yesterday — totally cool.
After apologizing, the mom-to-be received yet another text message from her boss, this time about the location of an office item:
She couldn’t find something that I put in a cabinet and was pissed about it. I specifically remember putting it there, so if it’s not, someone must have moved it. What am I supposed to do about it?
She left me aggravated and every time my phone makes a notification, I panic that it’s her. I don’t go back to work until October.
The woman explained she felt her boss was going “overboard” by incessantly contacting her while she was on leave and many commenters agreed. The top comment on the Reddit thread reads:
The only response warranted in this case “I am on maternity leave”. Repeat as necessary.
Another commenter advised the expecting mom to report her boss’ behavior to human resources. Many coming to the mom’s defense recommended she stop responding to text messages altogether.
One commenter suggested in part:
If she starts again with the passive aggressive, “Totally cool that you didn’t respond” lines, start documenting. Don’t delete any of the text, screen shot them, send them to her boss.
The woman added that before going on maternity leave, the boss asked if she could visit her in the hospital once the baby was born, a question that left her feeling uneasy:
My husband keeps telling me to stop responding, which I think is the best idea. The day before I left my boss asked if she could visit me at the hospital when the baby comes. It was awkward so I said “let me see how i feel.” My husband said if she shows up he will tell the nurses to make her leave.
The request had some commenters remarking that the boss sounded like she lacked personal boundaries.
Other commenters warned the mother that she may violate the Family and Medical Leave Act if she were to respond to her boss’ work-related messages.
Maternity leave is covered under the act.
The woman further explained her boss admitted to knowing she wasn’t supposed to contact her while she was on leave. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employers are prohibited from interfering with, restraining or denying the exercise of, or the attempt to exercise, any right granted under the act.
The woman closed her post by acknowledging that had it not been for her boss’s disclosure of her own expectations under the act, the woman would have had no idea what her rights were:
“If she wouldn’t have told me that so early on, I wouldn’t have had a clue.”