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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think US Government Cabinet Members should be able to take long maternity or paternity leave?

Asked by JLeslie (61652points) 1 month ago from iPhone

Or, even a short duration. What’s ok? How long?

I heard a discussion about Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking leave for his new babies. This reminded me of when a journalist asked candidate Al Gore if he would put the country or his family first.

When you have a top position and responsibility in government is it ok to be absent?

Was Buttigieg truly away from his job, or was he actually doing some work from home?

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14 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have now idea what Pete Buttigieg is doing or not – it’s none of my damned business. Although being an intelligent and conscientous guy, my guess is that he is probably on email and phone calls each day.

As for the larger question: Yes, why would anyone, especially a government worker, not be allowed to have leave when a kid is born into their family? =The US has terrible laws on parental leave – far more primitive than other civilized countries.

Government / cabinet workers absolutely have the right and option to take this sort of time. Do you think, @JLeslie that they are slaves?

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso You seem to be assuming my answer. I have not given my opinion.

chyna's avatar

When people wait to give thei opinion on their own question, it makes me think they will base it on what others think. I’m not saying this is what you are doing, I’m saying this is what I think.
I think they have an absolute right to be home and bond with their babies. And I think 6 weeks is not enough.

canidmajor's avatar

@JLeslie why haven’t you given your opinion? Your language usage would lead us to come to the same conclusions that @elbanditoroso did.

I think the examples set by the very people advising on and making the decisions is very important. Being informed and very occasionally consulted may be appropriate, but these people don’t work alone in a vacuum. Others can pick up the day to day slack.

jca2's avatar

I feel that, in order to get the best person to take a job, benefits are very important. Therefore, if a President offered someone a cabinet position and it didn’t come with maternity/paternity leave, it would lose good, qualified candidates and the candidates that would be likely to take the position might be skewed. Women would be less likely to take the position, and anybody of childbearing age would be less likely to take the position.

I agree also with @elbanditoroso that the person out on leave, in this day and age, is very likely to be reachable by email and phone. Maybe not to the degree that they are when they’re “at work” but certainly in case of emergency or if someone has a question or issue that they need help with.

JLeslie's avatar

I wait to give my opinion, because sometimes the first few opinions influence the rest of the answers. I have an opinion already, although I am interested in hearing everyone else’s. I don’t see why anyone would think I am waiting to hear opinions to go along with the crowd or not, I have no problems on other Q’s giving my opinions. Also, changing an opinion because you hear more information on a topic seems like a good thing to me not a bad one, so I don’t see the problem there either.

I assume Buttigieg was reachable by phone and still aware of what was going on in the country, and this story is a stupid distraction. Democrats wanting to push the topic of parent leave (I do support new parent leave) and Republicans wanting to be contrary.

I do think people in high positions like the president, secretary of state, governor, etc, if they have to choose they should be putting country or state first over family. They are in the position for a finite time and their responsibility is awesome (as in big) and the needs of the many outweigh the few.

There are soldiers who miss the births of their babies and the first few weeks or months of the baby’s life all of the time. I do not think this usually needs to be a choice though, or it shouldn’t be anyway. In most situations I think new parents can and should be accommodated no matter their position when possible. This goes to workplace flexibility in general. A silver lining to covid is pushing the envelope of flexibility.

If the employee or appointee needs or wants a lot of time completely off from work and there are pressing state decisions to be made, then they need to have someone temporarily fill their spot or resign. I don’t really think this would come up much, because as pointed out, we have the technology in emergency situations and of course in government there are also large staffs taking care of many every day situations.

I do not think being president or having a position in the cabinet is the same as working at Macy’s or AT&T. I think that is not taking into account the real importance of some jobs vs others and sacrifices some positions are expected to make.

chyna's avatar

I saw an interview with Pete today. He said there were procedures put in place for these types of things, and his undersecretary was helping take care of business. His twins were born premature and were hospitalized. He said he took lots of emails and texts and phone calls while sitting with his babies in the hospital.

JLeslie's avatar

@chyna Thanks for that information. That sounds like exactly what I would assume. Which means even he thinks he shouldn’t get complete time off with no disturbances considering his position.

That’s why when I saw the story on The View and the women were talking about this comparing to the average parent, or the topic of parental leave in general, it’s just not the same. They actually helped put out the idea Buttigieg was missing in action, which is false. The Republicans who made fun of him or said he was absent from his duties are even more horrible.

chyna's avatar

Yeah I saw Tucker Carlson saying something about Pete not breastfeeding. I dislike Tucker.

jca2's avatar

There used to be a notion about men taking maybe one day off to drive the wife and new baby home from the hospital, and going right back to work the next day. That’s an outdated notion on a multitude of levels.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 I don’t know how it works now for new dads, if they get leave from most workplaces? The woman who actually birthed the baby goes out on disability initially probably, like sick leave, I would think, but then maternity leave was also supposed to be For bonding time and being able to breast and general infant care. I know companies started including parents who adopt, I’m not sure where the laws are at this point.

Probably, some parents don’t want to be completely removed from their job, they just want flexibility and their position protected if they do decide to take a leave from work altogether.

I want flexibility period. I think moms push this envelope for flexibility and in the end it helps everyone. Legally, the workplace won’t be able to discriminate I don’t think. Not based on gender or parental status. That’s my guess, I haven’t looked into cases that might already have been fought.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: Some companies do a mix of vacation time and sick time. In the County I worked for, there was no maternity leave but you could and would use your sick time and vacation time, at full pay of course, which included any unused time from years past (you never would lose unused time), and then when that ran out, you would get two weeks half pay for every year of service. For me, I took 7 months off and so had 2–3 months at full pay, 2 months at half pay and then did two months of no pay. I would have loved to do more with no pay but then it was the new year, and it would have started eating into my newly granted time. With the job I had, I was totally off of phone calls and emails. I didn’t want to know what was going on at work, I didn’t care. I really liked being home with the baby.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 I always thought if I had a baby I would want to be totally off from work, and felt that I wouldn’t be able to fathom handing over my infant to someone else while I went to work. When I hear some people only get 6–8 weeks and then have to put their baby in daycare all day, I can’t imagine it.

If I couldn’t get many months off I would want flexibility to work from home or part-time or bring the baby to work.

I never had children so I was only assuming and predicting how I would feel or what I would want.

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