Yahoo!’s newly appointed CEO, 37-year-old Marissa Mayer, made headlines not just for being one of the few leading women of a Fortune 500 company, but for announcing her pregnancy soon afterward. While debates have since taken place about whether or not women truly can have it all – family and an extremely successful career – it’s the length of her maternity leave that’s worth noting.
“I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she told Fortune Magazine. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I’ll work through it.”
It’s a lofty goal to set for herself, and many are questioning whether it’s going to be possible for her. After all, this will be her first child – she may have experience in the workplace, but does she know what she’s up against when it comes to pregnancy and then caring for a baby?
“She will also, I am betting, not power through quite as single-mindedly on her maternity leave as she thinks she will,” Lisa Belkin wrote on her Huffington Post blog.
So how long should maternity leave really last?
In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) sets the standard length of maternity leave at 12 weeks. The law applies to government agencies and companies that have 50 or more employees, and it’s only per 12-month period. To qualify, you also have to be employed by the company for one year beforehand for at least 1,250 hours, which translates to 24 hours a week.
However, companies aren’t required by law to pay your salary during maternity leave, which may mean that you have to adjust the length depending on your financial situation. Not all women can afford to go 12 weeks without getting a paycheck, especially with a new baby on board.
What do you think is the ideal length for maternity leave? Should it be longer than 12 weeks, like it is in other countries, or shorter like the one Marissa Mayer is planning?