New Mom Forced to Pay Former Employer Thousands After Switching Jobs During Maternity Leave
Emily Manley, of Iowa, says she never imagined that taking time off from work to give birth would lead to a hefty bill.
Manley, who has a 3-month-old son Jettson, says her former employer is forcing her to pay over $2,600 after she switched jobs following her paid maternity leave, according to WHO-TV. She said the employer demanded the payment in full right away. (Manley has asked to keep the company’s name private.)
“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, 30, told the station. “I didn’t know it would happen that fast and that I would have to pay it back that fast.”
She said the employer sent her the bill when she gave her two weeks notice, with the document stating that she owed the company for healthcare costs and the paid time off she was required to use, according to WHO.
The company did not offer paid maternity leave, according to Yahoo. So, the new mom turned to the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles some employees to up to 12 work weeks of leave in a fiscal year. However, in order to utilize the FMLA, Manley had to use all of her paid time off offered by the company, according to WHO.
“As part of FMLA you are required to take all of your [paid time off] prior to the unpaid portion of leave,” she told Yahoo. Manley added to WHO: “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.”
So that’s what she did. She used her paid time off from her company for about a month before beginning her FMLA leave in February. During her time off, she received a job offer that, she said, seemed too good to be true.
“While on leave I saw an opening with a company that I had worked with previously and they offer benefits that are much better for a young family,” she told Yahoo. “This new position is healthier for me, our son and my family.”
She took the job and began working with the new company in April. She said her former employer told her she has until the end of June to pay up.
“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,” she told WHO. “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.”
However, company officials told WHO that 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.” Manley told Yahoo that fees from taking any legal action would cost more than the bill.
Now, Manley said she is sharing her story to warn other families.
“I’m not here to ask for money or give a poor me story, I am sharing my story in hopes if other women are out there on leave and looking for a new job, and don’t think that their company would do this — they might!” Manley said. “Having a child really makes you think about your job, what’s important in life and what you want out of a job. In the end, I’m glad I switched and now work for a wonderful company that respects me as a mother and employee.”