Mom forced to pay former employer thousands after switching jobs during maternity leave: 'I wasn’t prepared for it'

0
10
New mom Emily Manley took off three months unpaid to take care of her newborn son Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)New mom Emily Manley took off three months unpaid to take care of her newborn son Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)

View photos

New mom Emily Manley took off three months unpaid to take care of her newborn son Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)

Emily Manley knew exactly what to expect when she was expecting: additional expenses for baby food, clothes, formula, doctor’s appointments and medicine. But the one cost the new mom wasn’t anticipating was footing a hefty bill from her previous employer.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“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 told&nbsp;ABC13.” data-reactid=”32″>“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 told ABC13.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The company Manley previously worked for didn’t offer paid maternity leave. But, under the&nbsp;Federal Family and Medical Leave Act&nbsp;(FMLA), she was eligible for an unpaid, job-protected leave that included the continuation of her original health care benefits and coverage. So the mom took three unpaid months off to care for her newborn son, Jettson.” data-reactid=”33″>The company Manley previously worked for didn’t offer paid maternity leave. But, under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), she was eligible for an unpaid, job-protected leave that included the continuation of her original health care benefits and coverage. So the mom took three unpaid months off to care for her newborn son, Jettson.

Before taking advantage of her unpaid family leave, however, Manley was required to use all of her paid time off due to a company policy.

“They had a policy that you had to burn through all of your [paid time off] prior to taking leave, so really you didn’t have a choice — you had to take it all before you could start leave,” Manley told the news outlet.

While on maternity leave, Manley received a job offer that she felt would be better for her growing family, and she couldn’t pass it up. “It just offered some different benefits that would work better for having a little one. It’s a company I worked with before,” Manley said, adding that she accepted the position.

Emily Manley carries her three-month-old baby Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)Emily Manley carries her three-month-old baby Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)

View photos

Emily Manley carries her three-month-old baby Jettson. (Credit: ABC13)

After she submitted her two-week notice to her employer, which she requested not be named, the new mom was surprised when she soon received a billing statement of more than $2,600 from the company. According to the statement, Manley owed the company for its share of her health care costs and the paid time off they required her to use.

“It’s a lot of money to us,” Manley said. “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.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="According to Vasu Reddy, a policy expert with the&nbsp;National Partnership for Women and Families, a federal FMLA provision says that, unless an employee cannot return due to a serious health condition or circumstances beyond their control, the employer may recover the state’s share of healthcare premiums paid for the individual during periods of leave greater than 30 days. However, “the regulation is silent about whether they recover any premiums from a period of paid leave before the unpaid FMLA leave.”” data-reactid=”59″>According to Vasu Reddy, a policy expert with the National Partnership for Women and Families, a federal FMLA provision says that, unless an employee cannot return due to a serious health condition or circumstances beyond their control, the employer may recover the state’s share of healthcare premiums paid for the individual during periods of leave greater than 30 days. However, “the regulation is silent about whether they recover any premiums from a period of paid leave before the unpaid FMLA leave.”

Now, the former employer wants their money back and they want it by the end of June — a tight deadline that Manley is concerned she may not make.

“I didn’t know it would happen that fast and that I would have to pay it back that fast,” Manley said.

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="However, her former employer says the deadline is “completely fair given the length of time that has already elapsed since first starting maternity leave that was covered by FMLA on February 11th,”&nbsp;ABC13&nbsp;reports. In an email, the company added that the payment deadline is “already an extension of one additional month beyond the original plan offered.”” data-reactid=”62″>However, her former employer says the deadline is “completely fair given the length of time that has already elapsed since first starting maternity leave that was covered by FMLA on February 11th,” ABC13 reports. In an email, the company added that the payment deadline is “already an extension of one additional month beyond the original plan offered.”

That doesn’t make things much easier for Manley. “I can understand the company’s point of view, but at the same time, to do that to a young family is really difficult to be on the other side of it,” she said.

Although Manley reached out to a lawyer about pursuing legal action, she was advised that the litigation fees would be more costly than paying the bill.

While Manley does not wish to reveal the name of the employer demanding money back from her, she hopes to share her story to help other women who may be in the same predicament.

“If there are other women going through this, you’re not alone,” Manley said. “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.”

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:” data-reactid=”67″>Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="•&nbsp;Cashier brings newborn to work since her son is too young for childcare: ‘Parents will have to find creative solutions’” data-reactid=”68″>• Cashier brings newborn to work since her son is too young for childcare: ‘Parents will have to find creative solutions’

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="•&nbsp;Mom pens emotional letter to Pink, thanking the singer for helping daughter through vicious bullying” data-reactid=”69″>• Mom pens emotional letter to Pink, thanking the singer for helping daughter through vicious bullying

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="•&nbsp;Mother says nurse saved her baby’s life on airplane: ‘She’s a rock star’” data-reactid=”70″>• Mother says nurse saved her baby’s life on airplane: ‘She’s a rock star’

<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.” data-reactid=”71″>Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for nonstop inspiration delivered fresh to your feed, every day.