working women

Why Making Exceptions Is Unfair

Fairygodboss‘ soon-to-launch database catalogues company-provided benefits that are typically completely voluntary (i.e. they’re not legally required).  Examples of these voluntary benefits include the number of days of paid vacation, healthcare plans, retirement matching and paid parental leave.  These benefits basically typically apply to all employees (with typical exceptions for those who are very new to the company, working in different countries, on a part-time or unionized basis).

There are some benefits that are legally required, however.  I’ve previously written posts about federally required parental and illness leave, and today I’m featuring a great catalogue of state-law requirements by The National Partnership for Women and Families.  In this report, they’ve created an amazing resource for those wanting to understand their employee rights.  Scroll to page 58 for a useful grid laying out what you’re entitled to, depending on your state.  Their detailed scorecard covers everything from sick leave entitlement, to whether your employer is required to offer same-sex parental leave benefits and how long your employer must accommodate pumping mothers.

Sometimes, what’s fair comes down to stuff that has nothing to do with the law.  What you care about is how you’re treated compared to your colleagues. Even though this article written by a female journalist is about state laws, ultimately her story is that her company decided to treat her better than they were required to under New York state law.  They did so, not because they happened to offer a more generous company policy.  They treated her better than they had to because a colleague of hers was accommodated for a parallel situation (an illness, not pregnancy) and her boss convinced their company that it would be unfair — or might even lead to a lawsuit — if she weren’t treated the same.

I think this behavior is probably relatively common.  Companies and organizations are filled with different managers who are compelled to make exceptions for people.  Anonymously sharing your experience ensures that you — and your colleagues — are getting a fair shake and empowers you to know what you can really expect.


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