Monday, October 8, 2012

A question of character

Contra the assumption of many Americans, European-style maternity leave simply isn't the answer to the challenge presented by working mothers-to-be:
"Family-friendly" has become a cliché for a direction of political travel, which politicians have accustomed the voters to expect. So it would be a brave politician who questioned the most well-established plank of family-friendly policy - maternity leave.

Under present UK law, women who give birth can take up to a year’s maternity leave, for six weeks of which they are paid 90pc of their usual salary, though after that the rules vary and it’s around £135 a week or less.

However, maternity leave is creating a great burden on many women and businesses. The legislation puts employers off employing women. Companies are reluctant to give jobs to women of childbearing age.
The problem is actually more serious than the article makes it appear.  The UK has created a perverse incentive system where the woman is provided significant incentive to lie about her intention to return to the workforce after the year's leave, thus forcing the company to pay for the entire year when everyone knows she isn't coming back.  This not only forces the company to spend around £6000 in addition to her six-week 90 percent leave, but prevents them from making any plans to replace her until one year after she has left the job.

Not only that, but as long as she can get a simple note from her doctor, a woman can stop showing up to work once she's pregnant and still get paid her regular salary before she goes on maternity leave.  Now, while it's understandable that women will be tempted to take advantage of this legalized theft, what sort of message does it send about the woman's character to her co-workers and employers?  It's not merely men who resent the fact that one of their co-workers can take advantage of up to 15 months paid vacation. And how does it benefit women to create such a strong disincentive to hire women who are of an age and situation where pregnancy is a reasonable possibility?

Society needs women to bear children; without them doing so, it will eventually cease to exist.  But how can anyone look at the situation and credibly insist that the material gains of doubling the size of the female workforce - remember, one-third of women always worked - have been worth the material costs?


Cryan Ryan said...

Once again, politicians pandering to emotional, greedy women have left a trail of destruction in their wake.

Any politican who tries to dial this insanity back a notch will be dead in the water in a heartbeat. Consequently, the ship sinks lower and lower... and each new administration is 100% guaranteed to run up the debt, just to appease the math challenged, entitled females who elect them.

Vox you need to write another book to add to RGD and TIA. Virtually every societal problem you bring up can be directly or indirectly related to women having the vote.

Cryan Ryan said...

In your spare time, that is...

Stickwick said...

And women wonder why they don't get as much respect as men in the work place.

The legislation puts employers off employing women. Companies are reluctant to give jobs to women of childbearing age.

File this under unintended consequences. In fact, progressive policies almost always create the exact opposite of what they intended.

I had a few friends and colleagues tell me to do something similar after I graduated -- get a position, get tenure, then immediately get pregnant and go on leave. It's understandable that people often take advantage of unfair situations that are nevertheless legal, but it seemed very creepy to do that to any institution that would've been good enough to hire me permanently. Once I knew I wanted a family, the only thing that made sense was to pursue non-tenure track work.

JCclimber said...

Got into a discussion on this very topic last week at work. About 2 sentences into my part, I realized I was using logic and facts to make a point (female coworker).

I quickly switched to a rhetorical type of argument and spoke using stories. Stories showing the negative impact this had on coworkers who had to carry the workload of the lazy women who were using the system for every possible dollar and day off.

Highlighted how when those women returned to work, none of their coworkers trusted them again, would sabotage their getting good assignments, and in one case ran her right out of the company. It wasn't until some time later that I realized what had happened ( I moved on to a better job within the company after the second concurrent woman went on extended medical leave). Ran into one of the women (not one of the slackers, one of the hard working ones) recently, and she practically spat when mentioning one of those women's name.

"So, you see, it isn't always a free ride and a good career move for a woman to take that option". So much fun to see the cognitive disconnect as they had to confront the idea that their cherished belief may in fact be 180 degrees wrong.

Fun, because it was so illustrative to me the power of trying to use rhetoric with female coworkers rather than dialectic or plain ol' logic.

JCclimber said...

stickwick, for a real time example of that, look to France's new policy of taxing the top tier at 75%. There has been a sudden glut of high end properties in Paris coming onto the real estate market as they seek to exit the country with as much cash as possible, before the law clicks in.

They never seem to get that laws never work as intended.

Lucas said...

Which goes to show that only a Patrick Henry style of revolution can reverse the tide.

Bah said...


Did you forget the eternal solipsism of the female mind?

When you talked about women being lazy, untrustworthy, exploitative slackers... what she heard was "he thinks I am a lazy, untrustworthy, exploitative slackers!"

Good way to get yourself canned for "creating a hostile workplace environment" or some such crap.

Personally, I would never direct any critical comments about women at work to any woman at work. Save it for your guy buddies.

Stickwick said...

They never seem to get that laws never work as intended.

Progressives' laws never work as intended, because their principles are completely out of touch with reality. It would be like an engineer who designs rockets based on the belief that gravity points upward -- his rockets are never going to work as intended, no matter how hard he tries or how clever he is.

The problem with progressives is that they go after everything directly, because their philosophy says that good only come from things that feel good, and bad only comes from things that feel bad. However, this is completely at odds with reality. It's a demonstrable fact that good often comes from feeling bad, and bad often comes from feeling good (if you don't believe me, explain why nobody's figured out how to avoid a hangover after getting drunk).

Still, progressives keep chugging along. It feels bad to deny women careers if they want children, so let's create legislation that protects their jobs. That'll help women, right? Wrong. Rich people are bad, poor people are good, so let's tax the hell out of rich people and give it to the poor. That'll help poor people, right? Wrong. Everything that's wrong with post-Christian Western society is a direct product of that bass-ackwards philosophy.

Christian philosophy is the closest approximation to reality that has ever existed. Buddhism comes close in some ways, but it differs from Christianity in other key ways, which is why it's ultimately inert. But this is why truly Christian societies were so powerful. Even if devout Christians never understood that a great deal of the power of their philosophy was rooted in its close alignment with the laws of human behavior, it didn't matter. It worked. Now, the further we get from that philosophy, the more we fail.

If there's ever a time in the future when enough people really understand the laws of human behavior and have the audacity to actually use that knowledge, then legislation will almost always work as intended. The people most likely to accept that kind of knowledge are Christians, so there's hope.

Matthew said...

"There has been a sudden glut of high end properties in Paris coming onto the real estate market as they seek to exit the country with as much cash as possible, before the law clicks in."

You assume this is not the actual intended effect.

Anonymous said...

You're also forgetting the problem of employers having to find temporary people to fill those maternity roles.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

My wife never held any job that could be considered a career. Mostly, I encouraged her to work because I wanted her out of the house until we had kids. It is never good to have your wife at home with nothing to do (when you don't have kids, most housework takes half a day).

She never thought about taking advantage of a system like that. As soon as she was pregnant and we both knew that the baby wouldn't miscarry this time around, she quit her job. No maternity leave, no temporary leave, just done with working outside the home.

God-willing, I'll make enough money so she doesn't have to go back to work and can instead pursue her desired career.

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