Better-paying job or mat leave coverage? Does not compute!
April 3, 2014 6:04 PM   Subscribe

I have two job offers on my table, each with a sizeable pay raise above my current salary. Problem is, my current job has maternity leave benefits, and I don't think these two new jobs do.

I'm not pregnant yet, but we are planning to start trying seriously very soon. Yes I know it might be a long time before I actually get pregnant. Yes I will actually ask the companies about if they have mat leave benefits, but if they don't...

My current employer has great benefits and pretty lowball salaries. But they top up maternity EI benefits (I'm Canadian) to 66% of pre-leave pay for 1 year. My maternity EI income would be almost $26K for the year, the top-up from my current company would bring me to $50K. So my getting pregnant is worth about $24K there. With my husband's salary (much less than mine) that's enough that we'd go from "just getting by, maybe not" to "living frugally but comfortably".

The two companies with job offers are offering about $11K more than my current salary. I do intend to negotiate further. These companies also offer performance-based bonuses that could be fairly significant, in the several $K range which my current company does not.

So I'm wondering whether there's potential for the lack of mat leave benefits to negate the salary increase, if I got pregnant in a timely manner. Is this something I should try to have compensated for during negotiations (and how to dance around that subject...). What else can you say about getting a new job, anticipating trying for a baby as soon as the probationary period is up?
posted by lizbunny to Work & Money (10 answers total)
I don't think top ups are very common.

Your old salary for one year plus one year mat leave would average out to $13K per year for that top up benefit. Compare that to average $11K plus bonus from the new job. They seem equivalent over two years and after three years the new job comes out ahead.

Have you eliminated the possibility of your husband taking part of the leave?

(for non Canadians, parental leave is split into two parts. The first 16 weeks can be taken by the mother only, the remaining part of the year can be taken by either parent).
posted by TORunner at 6:17 PM on April 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

Are you only planning to have one child? If only take maternity leave once.
A pay raise lasts...and puts you in a position to get more bonuses and higher-paid jobs with the future. Doing the calculations for one year might leave you with the impression that staying at your current employer is the way to go. But doing the calculations over 10 years would give you a very different impression. I'd urge you to think long-term instead of short-term. If you have strong reason to believe that the new job (or others like it) would still be on the table in a year or three, then maybe it'd be worth it...but it'd still be a risk.
posted by leitmotif at 6:18 PM on April 3, 2014 [5 favorites]

Not to go all Susan Sandberg on you, but: Don't leave before you leave.

At $11K per year, you only need to work for a little over two years to "earn" your maternity leave. And you'll keep getting that $11K every year. Things might be a little different if you were pregnant already, but you will easily come out ahead by taking the higher salary and saving the excess.

Even if you got pregnant the day you started at the new job, you'll still be earning an extra $8,250 over the 9 months that you work there.

Go for the higher pay, or use the offer to negotiate the raise at your current job.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:03 PM on April 3, 2014 [4 favorites]

sparklemotion makes a good point above.

My only question would be about the differences in workplace culture between your current job and these new offers. A place that offers such a generous top up could indicate a place with a very family friendly and accommodating atmosphere. Do the other potential employers seem to have a less accommodating atmosphere? I would worry if they expect longer work hours...which could be very difficult when you have a young family.

However if that is not a concern for you, I would take the higher paying job.
posted by barnoley at 7:41 PM on April 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am surprised the jump in pay is only $11,000. Is there any chance of going back to your current employer and asking them to match the salary? If I remember correctly, you are in a male dominated industry which may not be as enthusiastic about even the mention of maternity leave (yes, not fair, but also true). I would only include mat leave in a package of upgraded benefits (more vacation time, upped paid conferences, etc)
posted by saucysault at 8:24 PM on April 3, 2014

^sorry, just realized I left out the word "requested", as in a requested package of upgraded benefits where you can leverage some benefits to get the ones you really want.
posted by saucysault at 10:27 PM on April 3, 2014

I think you need to get a read on workplace culture. While I agree that you should not leave before you leave, you may have a sense of how you want your life with kids to work. Most employers do not offer top up. Your current employer may have programs to keep you in the loop during mat leave (a year in Canada, not a few weeks). Perhaps they have on-site daycare. Also, they may be more flexible when you do return and they may be more mindful of job sharing, working from home, sick days and vacation time. Have a look at your benefits package and any RRSP matching too. Take a look even at coverage for therapy, physio, psychologists and the like. Also, check whether they cover training and professional development. And have a good look at training, mentoring and opportunities to move up.

Once you know all that, go back and look at the salaries again. If you are concerned that your salary will fall behind, you can consider viewing it as X+benefits, instead of X.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 12:26 AM on April 4, 2014

Scrolled down to say demand it now. You will NEVER have more leverage.
posted by xammerboy at 1:24 AM on April 4, 2014

I agree with xammerboy, you are in an excellent negotiating position, with tons of leverage. Now's a very good time to get your current employer to dramatically increase your salary, since you have not one but TWO other places that want you.

It's also the best time to see what kind of increases you can get in the offers from the two other places. Don't underestimate the value of a good benefits package. I have an excellent extended benefits plan that saves me on the order of $6,000 a year. It'll be more like $10,000 once I get to the orthodontic stage with my kid. Benefits alone could bring your real compensation from your current job up much closer to the prospective jobs than is obvious. Bear in mind you have a future kid who will need benefit coverage, and that over time most of us use our benefits more, not less.

Parental leave top-up is pretty unusual and I tend to agree that it says something good about your current employer. That said, even if you have two kids, that's only ("only") $48,000, which you could save from the new jobs--all else (e.g. benefits) being equal--in about 4 years. If you plan on working there for 10+ years, money-wise, it's clear that the higher pay is worth more. Even if you had to take out a line of credit to bridge the lower income mat leave time, you would still come out ahead.

I agree with saucysault that you should discuss the mat leave as one part of the compensation package with the potential employers, particularly if there is a big difference between your current benefits package and what they are offering. In addition to distracting from the pregnancy potential (it so totally sucks to have to do that, but I agree it's probably best), it gives you the global number so that you are comparing apples to apples and demonstrates that your a serious negotiator.
posted by looli at 8:27 PM on April 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I took the opportunity to negotiate $5K higher at the new company I liked most.

It was actually a huge relief when I went to talk to my future boss-lady about salary and just meet people at the office. I didn't notice it before in the interview, but she's 18 weeks pregnant.

The company does have a mat leave program with a salary top-up. Not nearly as extensive as my current company but it does assuage my fears a bit. Now to see if my husband gets decent paternity leave.
posted by lizbunny at 4:50 PM on April 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

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