Monday, August 03, 2009

Not so perfect timing

This post is part of the Carnival of Maternity Leave over at Visit for more posts on maternity leave from August 3 - 15, 2009.

It was pretty much a year ago exactly that I left my job of five years. I left because I wasn't happy there anymore (REALLY not happy) and I left because I decided to pursue a different dream - expanding my online business and opening a retail location.

I got pregnant within a month of opening the store, and yes, that was planned. I believed that I could run a business with a newborn - after a bit of a break I could bring him/her with me to the store - after all, it was MY business and I had heard of many other moms doing it.

Than I found out it was twins and I knew I couldn't do it - bringing two babies everywhere I went and trying to work no longer sounded manageable. (For that, and several other reasons including my business partner also getting pregnant and the whole economy crashing things, we closed the retail location, which was a temporary one to begin with, and went back to the online model only for the time being.) That's when I realized I was in a bit of a pickle. I had just quit my permanent job that not only would have provided me the eligibility for maternity leave EI, but a 5 month top up.

Do you know what you get for maternity leave as a business owner? Even if the business has yet to become profitable? Nothing, nada, RIEN!

I then spent the next few months trying to earn enough insurable hours to make SOME EI (although I still haven't gotten through the hassle of seeing if I'm actually eligible and how little money they're going to give me because it's so complicated). Thank goodness my husband is making enough money to get us by at the moment. Thank goodness we have supportive families who would never let us get into a horrible situation and thank goodness we have savings and good credit.

But I really think it sucks. I worked MANY hours in the store (paying myself minimum wage) and I can't claim any of it towards the national maternity leave benefits. How is that fair?

I think we are very lucky to live in Canada where we have such great maternity/parental leave options. That being said, there are definitely some flaws when it comes to people who are self-employed, and also for the parents of multiples.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for participating in the carnival! I'm very glad that you shared your story. You have to stop by tomorrow to read about Jill, who had only 596 hours of insurable income and how she got around that.

I completely agree about the self-employed. The Conservative government promised to extend maternity and parental benefits to the self-employed during the last election campaign. They have launched a study or commission on it, but no real steps have been taken. Self-employed parents in Quebec can take leave, I really think it's time to extend benefits to the rest of Canada.

Lynn said...

That's crazy! I had no idea that self-employed mommies can't get paid benefits. I'm glad to hear from Amber that they're at least studying the problem. Sheesh.

Capital Mom said...

Wow, I didn't even know about the issue of mat leave for the self-employed. What a double shock when you found out you were having twin. Realizing that you would have two babies and what that would mean for your plans.

victoria said...

I did know about that- i have a sister and a daddy who are self employed-
=( hope it all works out fo ryou

Jennifer said...

oh wow! It's lucky that you have a good support system.

Jill said...

That must have been pretty stressful, in addition to the stress of TWO new babies. Another issue I had never considered not having had twins/multiples is getting by on mat leave with more than one baby. I realize the benefits are based on the insurable hours of the parent(s), but it seems to me there should be some sort of additional financial support available to parents of twins/mulitples.