“My company offers a generous paid-familyleave benefit, but they just got bought by a different company with a much stingier policy—fewer weeks off at lower pay— and I’m expecting. How can I get my original benefit and not the new one?”
Handling leave when your company gets acquired, acing an exit interview, and more.
AWhile it’s possible you may be “grandmothered” into the old plan, unfortunately, it’s not a sure thing. Your best course of action: Go to HR directly to find out what changes, if any, are coming up.
If a different parental-leave plan is replacing the former one, then you should try to negotiate, says Claire Bissot, managing director of CBIZ HR Services, an HR consulting organization. “Treat it as if you were starting a new job and they didn’t have a great policy,” she suggests.
Come prepared with compromises you’re willing to make in case the new company won’t give you the leave you were entitled to pre-acquisition. For example, suggest a number of weeks off that falls between the old and new offerings. “Show you are committed to the company and can be flexible,” Bissot says. “Read through the new company policy to see if there are other options available to bridge the gap.” And if not, propose some, such as working from home or part time after your leave ends.
If they won’t budge, there might not be more you can do. According to Bissot: “The employer may amend, cancel or change any part [of a leave plan] with or without notice,” which would eliminate any potential legal recourse. At this point you might need to evaluate whether the new firm is a good long-term fit. “If the company is unwilling to work with you, is this even a company you want to work with?” Bissot asks.
There are plenty of wonderful businesses (see page 38 for some of them!) that regularly hire pregnant women and give generous maternity leave, no matter employees’ tenure. Just don’t forget that if you’re in California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York or Rhode Island, your state might offer more-generous subsidized leave than the acquiring company does.
Q“I’m leaving my job and have an exit interview coming up. The company wasn’t nearly as family-friendly as advertised, and I want to offer suggestions for improvement— would that be appropriate?”
ABefore you bring up your beef, ask yourself why you want to give feedback during the meeting, says career transition coach Jane Scudder. “The answer to this could include anything from helping specific colleagues to helping other women whom you don’t know but who might be in a similar situation to simply wanting to vent and express how bad their policies were for you,” she says. You shouldn’t use the exit interview as a personal kvetching session, but if you truly want to improve the company for other parents, confess your concerns.
To do it professionally, “share specific examples or patterns, and highlight how this would improve things for associates as well as the organization overall,” Scudder says. Provide
avoid calling out any co-workers.
When you suggest those solutions, bring up how familyfriendly policies have boosted employee retention and talent acquisition at other companies. If one of the main reasons you’re leaving is to work in a family-friendlier environment, then mention this to drive home your point.
“Be honest and constructive, but deliver your thoughts with a smile and appreciation for your time at the company,” says Addie Swartz, the CEO of reacHIRE, an organization that assists women returning to the workforce. “You never know where your career path might lead, and you always want to leave the door open to return.”
Q“I started a new job where it’s common for employees to work late. I can’t stay past 5 p.m. because I need to pick up my kids, but I’m worried my new co-workers won’t think I’m a team player because of my schedule. Should I tell my colleagues why I don’t stay late? Anything I should try to get on their good side?”
AThe best thing to do: Be upfront and honest with them. Tell them your schedule and explain why it’s nonnegotiable, in most cases. If your work calendar is visible to your colleagues, mark when you leave as “busy” to remind them not to schedule any 5 p.m. meetings. If you’re so inclined, you can log back in later and work remotely. “A simple ‘Leaving now to pick up the kids, but I’ll be back online at 7 p.m. to see what I’ve missed’ will go a long way to making your fellow workers know you are a team player,” Swartz says.
It’s also a smart idea to get to know your co-workers better. Participate as much as you can in team-building activities, or just chat with them when possible. “Then it might naturally come up that you have children who you are responsible for picking up every day so you can’t stay late,” Scudder says. “In this construct, you’re not making an awkwardly timed excuse; rather, you’re just living a life in which your job and your team—these other humans who you spend thousands of hours with each year—really matter.”
After all, the ideal way to truly be a “team player” is for you to do top-notch work and be dependable—no matter what time of day it is. “The best reputations are often those of people who produce strong, impactful work,” Scudder adds.
Company acquired? There might be a way to keep the old leave policy.
Your exit interview is the perfect time to let the company know where it can improve.