Being a new mom is stressful. Along with keeping a newborn happy and cared for, your body healing, and adjusting to a whole new world, women don't need any added stress during this incredibly joyous (and equally exhausting) time.
According to WHO-TV, an Iowa woman spent her first Mother's Day trying to figure out how to pay her former employer over $2,600. Not exactly the first Mother's Day most of us dream of.
Emily Manley wasn't offered paid maternity leave, so she turned to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which she used for three months of unpaid leave. Iowa employees are eligible to twelve weeks of leave for, "serious health conditions, bonding with a new child, or preparation for a family member's military service."
While on leave, to care for her newborn son, Manley was offered another job. The position was one she couldn't pass up, and one she felt would better her family. However, that's when she ran into an unexpected surprise. When Manley gave her notice to her employer, who she has decided to keep private, she was sent an unexpected document. In it, Manley was informed that she owed $2,600 to the company for their share of health costs, along with paid time off that was used. To top it all off, the company demanded payment almost immediately.
“It was kind of a shock. I wasn’t prepared for it. I wasn’t ready for it, but I knew it was a possibility,” Manley said. “I didn’t know it would happen that fast and that I would have to pay it back that fast.”
Since Manley took three months off of work and only recently started her new job, the sum is a large amount to come up with by the end of June, which is when the company has asked for payment. “It’s a lot of money to us. We did our best to save when we got pregnant, knowing that we had bills coming, and did our best for that, but it’s kind of hard to prepare,” Manley said.
In an email sent to WHO-TV, Manley's former employer stated that it's, "completely fair given the length of time that has already elapsed since first starting maternity leave that was covered by FMLA on February 11th." They also point out that Manley was already given an extension of an additional month beyond what the original plan offered.
While the idea of fighting her former employee in court crossed her mind, Manley spoke to a lawyer who advised against such action. The cost of legal fees would be higher than the $2,600 she currently owes.
Manley hopes that in sharing her story, she can help other new moms who find themselves in a similar situation. She wants women to know that they aren't alone. "I didn't work for a large corporation that you would expect something like this to happen. It was a smaller owned local company that you wouldn’t think would exercise that sort of right that they have,” she said.