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I am 31 years old and pregnant for the second time, due in one month. I work in a doctor's office with one other employee. When I had my first child (last year) I took ten weeks leave and I was paid for the entire time. I have worked here for the last eight years and do not know what vacation time or sick days(if any) I am entitled to.

I asked my boss to let me know but he never did. His wife writes out my check each week and if I ask one a question they tell me to ask the other. What is short-term disability? Would I be able to apply for that if I needed more than six weeks? I know I'm all over the place here but I just cannot believe that I have no rights at all regarding vacation and other days due to me. Also is there any formula for wage increase? I am running the office on my own and received just $2 increase in the eight years.

I am afraid to ask for a raise now in my present condition, as I could not go even one week without a salary in order to look for another job. I am originally from Ireland and I cannot believe the work conditions in this country. I love it here but we (workers, women) have no rights and that is a shame. Please help.

Yours Sincerely,



Dear Philo,

Ireland among other places has maternity leave figured out far more than we do in the US. In fact, the situation here in the US is downright pathetic. There is the Family Medical Leave Act, which says that employees are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of leave from their jobs without having their jobs endangered. However, this act makes no stipulation for being paid nor does it apply to companies that have less than 25 employees, which seems to be your situation.

These conditions leave employers with the right to determine their own policies. From the sound of it, your employer has no such policies and you have no alternative but to ask your employer. Different states have policies beyond what is regulated by the federal government, so you might want to inquire there, too.

As for the pay issue, most employers give raises based on "standard of living," but I don't think this is regulated -- so again, you are left to the whims of the employer. Good luck -- and maybe your persistence can help change the situation for others who will certainly find themselves in a similar situation.

- Amy

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