happy ramadan

Today was the final day of Ramadan, so the Embassy was closed. The streets were packed with people dressed in their finest, en route to celebrations with friends and family. Or so Andy told me after returning from his run. As for me, I didn’t leave the house. I focused on spending some much-needed time with this guy:

Happy Ramadan, indeed.

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10 Responses to happy ramadan

  1. Jeanne says:

    And a day off with him next week too? Sweet.

  2. uncle jerry says:

    is he speaking french yet? he is beautiful—enjoy

  3. Daniela says:

    I know what you mean when you say you have a hard time leaving him to go to work! He’s just too darn cute! Love his facial expressions!

  4. Kate says:

    Awww he’s got such a wonderful look about him!

    Curious to know, how does mat leave actually work in the US Foreign Service? In the Canadian case, we get up to a year, but only six months if you have your little one while on an overseas posting. You guys left long before that mark!

  5. alex says:

    @Kate — Six months? A year? Man, I’m jealous — especially if any of that is paid! We don’t get any official paid maternity leave. However, you can use a combination of your sick days, your vacation days and what’s called “leave without pay” to take up to 12 weeks for maternity leave. In my opinion, it’s not nearly enough.

  6. Kate says:

    Ouch! I didn’t mean to stumble on a sensitive topic, I just wasn’t sure how the USFS compared to most US companies, etc.

    In our case, it is paid (mostly). Generally, Canadian employees get up to a year at up to 55% of their pay, and employers can choose to “top up” over and above that. The big accounting firms (for example) generally top up to 100% for a certain number of those weeks, and the federal government (including the Foreign Service, minus that 6 months caveat I mentioned above) tops up to 93% for the full period. It’s higher in Quebec- 75% as the base line and top ups after that.

    [Nerding out here for a second]

    I wonder if it plays into the different dynamics of the Canadian and US job markets. I was surprised to find that so many of my female American friends chose to stay home after the birth of their kids- for good. Despite university degrees, careers, etc. That’s fairly rare in Canada- there’s a 10 percentage point difference between the two (15% versus 25%).

    I found an interesting quote from Statistics Canada while trying to answer your question 🙂

    “Within 18 months of the birth of their child, the vast majority, or 96 per cent of moms with paid benefits and a top-up, returned to work for the same employer. This compares with 77 per cent of mothers with paid benefits and no top-up, and just 46 per cent of mothers without either.”

    [Done nerding out now]

    Either way, he is absolutely adorable. What a great smile!

  7. Alex says:

    Kate — Yeah, the FS policy is representative of the American attitude toward maternity leave more generally. It’s pretty rare for a company to offer paid leave, and even if they do it definitely wouldn’t be more than three months. From what I understand, the US is pretty alone in this regard. The norm in pretty much every other developed country in the world is much more time.

    I appreciate your nerding out, as you say. =) I was actually thinking about the same thing very recently. Before having a kid myself, I honestly didn’t understand why so many other countries gave mothers so much time off. My view was the typical American one: having a child is one’s choice, and it’s that person’s responsibility — not her employer’s, or society’s — to make things work. Now, though, I’m starting to see the other side. Honesty, I’m not the best employee I could be right now, as my focus is elsewhere. Furthermore, it’s crossed my mind to leave the workforce entirely, which is not something I ever thought I would consider. If I left, I probably wouldn’t go back — at least not for a while. It’s just hard when you lose the momentum, it seems. However, if I had a year off now to focus on the baby, I bet by the end of it I’d be ready to return to work, and I think I’d be a much more productive and valuable worker then too.

    I’m still not totally convinced it’s anyone else’s responsibility to subsidize my family choices, though. I guess my American-ness is shining through in that way. Still, I agree 100% that American society is losing a lot of potentially valuable employees due to the status quo.

  8. Kate says:

    Now you’ve got me thinking!

    I wonder if we don’t look at it another way. Our schools are fully paid for and the % of kids in the public system is high, and our universities, while not free, are subsidized. As a society, I think (and this is just me here, I have no stats to back this one up) that the mentality might be that we’ve put so much into getting you to a point where you can contribute to the economy, we don’t want you to opt out. Better to have a year out of the system and 30 years initial than out entirely.


  9. Alex says:

    I think you’re on to something… However, even though American universities aren’t subsidized to the degree Canadian ones are, our K-12 education system is, so I think the same argument could be made about the value of longer maternity leaves in the US…

    Given our current political environment, though, I can’t imagine such an idea gaining traction any time in the near future.

  10. Jenn says:

    I also work for the US Government. I’ve been at my job for just over a year now and I expect I’ll be there another year or two before I consider starting a family with my husband. Because being a stay at home mom isn’t really an option for me, I have to wait until I accrue enough sick leave to stay home. It’s REALLY frustrating. When I found out we (federal government employees) don’t get sick leave (or short term disability insurance for that matter) I started doing some research. I believe I read that the US is the only industrialized country to not offer paid maternity leave. And it’s one of only 4 or 5 world wide that doesn’t offer it. You can see an interactive map here of what countries offer. http://www.npr.org/2011/08/09/137062676/time-with-a-newborn-maternity-leave-policies-around-the-world
    I mean, IRAN! offers more maternity leave than the US. There has been a draft resolution called the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act and would give us 4 weeks paid leave. But it’s been failing to be approved for 3 years now. I also found in my research a report provided by a non-partisan group which stated that it would be cheaper to provide paid maternity leave because most women who don’t get maternity leave, leave the workforce permanently. As a result, the company spends more money to hire and train a new employee than it would have spent on providing leave.

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