By Hopefull, Barefoot & Pregnant
There are no less than a hundred thousand articles that advise soon-to-be mommies on how to transition work and prepare your employer for your maternity leave. And with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 that states women who are pregnant must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities or limitations, there is a false sense of security that having a baby is business as usual.
This false security was shattered when I received an email from our HR stating that my maternity leave is handled under paid-time-off and that once the PTO is exhausted my status changes to unpaid personal leave. This means that I have 8.2 days off for maternity leave. The act applies to employers with 15 or more employees, so my company flies under the radar. In this tight economy, I know that I can't afford to take unpaid leave, so I decided to finance the leave myself.
First, I started searching early for alternative income resources. I looked on Craigslist, Guru, and Elance for job postings. The best opportunities are those that let you work from home for short-term engagements. Another thing I did was look at services section of Craigslist. Most of the time people do things for free that they could charge for and by checking the service page I could see how other people were marketing their skills. The things I found were making arts & crafts and convenience contingent services. Convenience contingent services (CCS) is a phrase I coined which means any service and or job people can do but it would be easier to have somebody else do for them. An example of a CCS would be a dry-clean valet service.
Secondly, reach out to small businesses and owners. Most small businesses are under-staffed to lower fixed cost. These are great places to offer services like a small doctor's office that needs somebody to make follow-up calls on service plans or send out emails for a business with a database of clients.
Third, think out of the box. One idea that I came up with was providing a fax menu service. Basically, I could call on restaurants and have them agree to pay a fee for me to fax their lunch menus to local businesses. So which one of these did I decide to pursue? Well, because I handle new business development. I had ran across a gentlemen that was expanding his business and needed somebody to make lead generation calls. I contacted him and explained that I would be available to do contract work while on maternity leave. Much like my baby's nursery, everything is set up for when I come home from the hospital. Lastly, I would advise that you have everything agreed upon and organized before you have the baby and stay in constant contact.