Men tend to get Paid More than Women because of the High Cost of Maternity Leave

Posted by PITHOCRATES - August 31st, 2013

Week in Review

There was a movie in 1985 called Head Office.  It lampooned corporate America.  In it there was this one character who was dying from heart disease or something.  But he refused to take time off from work.  Because if he did someone else would get his job.  He’d rather take a chance on dying than risk losing his job.  Because the corporate world was that cutthroat.  There was always someone waiting in the wings to take your job.  Which is why you never wanted to miss work.  Because if someone else did your job for you when you were away and they did it better than you they might just keep your job.  Leaving you to start your corporate career all over again.  And often with less pay and fewer benefits.

That’s the way it used to be.  Today, it’s a bit different.  Especially if you’re a woman (see As a boss, maternity leave is a nightmare for employers by Josephine Fairley posted 8/28/2013 on The Telegraph).

There’s no denying, of course, that for companies – especially really small companies – maternity leave presents challenges. Suddenly, a key team member isn’t there. And even more challengingly, there’s no way to know if she’s coming back – which makes it hard to plan for the future…

Right now, it isn’t legal to ask a pregnant woman whether she’s even thinking of coming back to work. There’s no imperative for her proactively to tell you proactively – never mind before the birth, but right up to the time that the 52 weeks of maternity leave are up. And my observation is that’s partly what makes it so hard to plan, and accommodate, a woman who’s on maternity leave…

I know several women who’ve returned to work after a few months, never mind a year of maternity leave, feeling like they’d landed on Mars because so much had changed while they were away.

52 weeks of maternity leave?  And they don’t have to say whether they’re coming back to work?  The boss can come in one day and find a key employee will leave for an extended absence in 6 months time?  And not know if she will ever return to work?

So they have to hire someone temporarily.  Who they will have to let go if she comes back from maternity leave.  Even if this temporary person turns out to be better in that position.  So a person that they hired and trained so well that they are better than the person they filled in for must lose his or her job.  Someone who may have taken that position because they didn’t expect that person to return from maternity leave.  And because it was the best job available at the time they took that chance.  Only to find the year they invested there was a year out of their life that they could have spent somewhere else.  Building a career where their hard work was rewarded.  Then spend time and resources training the woman returning from maternity leave.  So she can understand all the changes that happened in her absence.

This is why men tend to get paid more when they compare salaries.  First of all, with a lot of women taking maternity leave it does bring down the women’s average income when they take a year or two of income earning years out of their career.  And secondly, who do you think an employer will want to hire?  Someone that they have to accommodate for up to a year in maternity leave?  Or someone that isn’t going to walk in and say “I’m going to have a baby in 6 months”?  If they are working on a 2 year project they don’t want to worry about a key team member leaving in the middle of it.  It may be unfair.  But men can’t get pregnant.  They can do a lot of stupid things to ruin a big project just as women can.  But women have that one other variable.  That a business owner can’t have a contingency for.  What are they going to do?  Have two people doing the job of one in case one of them goes on maternity leave?  What if it’s two women and they go on maternity leave at the same time?  Do you have to make sure that one of the two people doing the job of one person is a man?  So he will always be available if the woman goes on maternity leave?  Of course, you know where that will take you.  Why not just hire a man and have one person do the job of one person?  And remove the need for any contingency in the first place?

Business owners hate uncertainty.  Pregnancy creates uncertainty.  This isn’t a man versus a woman issue.  A battle of the sexes.  For women own businesses, too.  And hate uncertainty just as any other business owner.  Some may make a stand for women in the workplace.  Hire women into key positions then deal with their maternity leave.  But they, too, would probably prefer hiring a man in some key positions.  So they can just worry about the usual things.  Like losing a key employee who leaves for a better paying job.  Of course if they do they at least can immediately start interviewing a replacement.  Without waiting 52 weeks.

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Marriage, Babies and Taxes

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 28th, 2013

Politics 101

The Women’s Movement encouraged Women to Choose a Career over Having Babies

It is common for a married couple planning to have children to both work.  To put as much money into the bank for a down payment on a house to raise their family in.  In a nice neighborhood with good schools.  After they buy that house and have their first child it is common for the woman to quit working to stay home and take care of their newborn child.  And the other children they have.  While the husband continues to work.

The women’s movement changed that.  It encouraged women to have fewer babies (or none at all) and to have a career instead.  Those who had children were encouraged to return to work as soon as possible.  To just dump their kids into daycare and continue their careers.  But it doesn’t always work that way.  Sometimes a woman determined not to let her children interfere with her career has a change of heart after having her first child.  Deciding not to return to work.  Choosing to, instead, stay at home and raise her children.  And not dump them into daycare.

This, of course, causes problems for employers.  Making it more risky to hire women.  Especially in this litigious world.  They have to hold a woman’s job for her when she goes on maternity leaves.  And if her job is a critical job, like doing payroll, others will have to split up her job responsibilities.  Perhaps hiring a temp to pick up the less critical tasks (filing, answering phones, etc.).  For mistakes in payroll do not make happy employees.  And mistakes in payroll taxes can cause some very costly problems with the government.  If a woman doesn’t plan on returning to work after having her baby the business can hire a new employee.  And in her last weeks before leaving to have her child she can train her replacement for an orderly transfer of her responsibilities.  Something she can’t do if she changes her mind while on maternity leave.

In the Marriage Contract the Wife gives up her Career to Raise the Children while her Husband provides Financial Support

This can be a reason why men earn more than women.  Because there is less of a chance of his changing his mind to be a stay-at-home parent.  It happens.  But not as often as it happens with women.  Because women have a biological clock ticking.  Which can greatly influence her thinking on her long-held career plans.  For a woman has to leave work to have a child.  And to recover from the birth.  Men don’t.  Their lives can go on with little change.  And because a woman has to take time off she spends more time bonding with her newborn child.  Which is a powerful force.  Mothers are very protective of their babies.  And even though she had all intentions of returning to work having the welfare of her newborn dependent on her can change her best laid plans.

Of course, leaving the workforce not only affects her employer it affects the household budget.  For that lost paycheck can make life more difficult at home.  Forcing the new family to get by on less.  Government understands this.  And they design the tax code to help families raise children.  Because the government needs people to have babies.  And they need them to have more than two.  For if they only have two the population will not continue to grow.  These children will only replace their parents.  Not expand the tax base to help pay for an expanding menu of government benefits going to an aging population.  But having more than two children is very expensive.  Which is why married families get a lot of deductions and credits in the tax code.  To help offset the high cost of having children.  So they will have more children.

And there are other legal issues and traditions to help families.  Such as the baby’s last name.  A woman may hyphenate her name when married.  But you can’t do that with children.  For in a generation or two a person’s name will grow so long with multiple hyphens that it will make it difficult to use on forms, to sign a contract or a check.  Put on a nametag.  Tradition has the father being the financial provider.  As the father is not physically impacted by pregnancy.  He can keep working.  And providing.  So giving the child the father’s last name makes it easy for the child to go through life.  And makes it clear that the father is financially responsible for that child.  Just like it’s a man’s work benefits that cover his wife and children.  Because in the contract of marriage the wife gives up her career to do something more important.  Raise their children.  But she can only do that if her husband provides the income, the health care benefits, house, car, groceries, etc., the family needs.

If Same-Sex Marriage is about an Unfair Tax Code the Left could just vote Republican so we can Lower Taxes for Everyone

The institution of marriage developed to help a man and a woman raise children.  Having children came first.  People have been having children long before they even talked or used tools.  Then civilization advanced.  The economy grew more complex.  This advanced civilization was costly.  Especially when raising children. Then the institution of marriage came along to help families have children.  Governments and business help families have and raise children.  For we need families to have and raise children.  Businesses need an expanding population.  For a business needs more people to grow.  To buy the goods and services of their expanding business.  Just as government needs an expanding population.  To pay the taxes to fund an expanding government.  An expanding population translates into a growing and prosperous economy.  And a growing and more generous government.  Because the more people there are the more people government can tax.

Men and women have married without raising a family.  Yet they still get some of the benefits we developed to help married people raise children.  Such as one spouse being covered under the other’s employer’s health insurance benefit.  Raising the business’ costs without providing an expanding population benefit for this additional cost.  And it’s the same for government.  A married couple may get some favorable tax benefits that cost the government while not providing an expanding population benefit for this additional cost.  So there is a short-term benefit for a childless marriage.  The woman doesn’t leave the workforce.  She builds her career and earns more income.  Providing more tax revenue.  But there is no long-term benefit.  For when this couple leaves the workforce there will be no one to replace them.  So while they start consuming Social Security and Medicare benefits they have not added new people to the workforce to pay for these.

Understanding how and why we have the institution of marriage makes the current same-sex marriage debate puzzling to say the least.  For marriage is not about civil rights.  It’s about lowering the cost of raising children.  Which both business and government needs.  For if couples don’t have more than two children then the population will no longer expand.  And it will age.  Making it more costly for government.  While providing a shrinking customer base for businesses.  A couple that does not bring new children into the world provides no return on the cost of the marriage benefits they receive.  And a same-sex marriage will be no different than a childless marriage between a man and a woman.  From an economic/government funding point of view. They will not help grow the economy.  They will not lower the future cost of government.  And there won’t be a legal or traditional need for giving a newborn child a last name.  As they can’t procreate.

If procreation is out of the equation people can enter committed relationships without the institution of marriage.  During the sexual revolution the Left belittled the institution of marriage and asked why anyone needed a piece of paper to sanction their love.  And these people lived together flaunting convention.  And tradition.  Using birth control and the recently legalized abortion to make sure no children resulted from these new living arrangements.  These marriage-less committed relationships.  Now marriage is the number one issue of the Left.  If it’s for same-sex couples the institution they hated and worked so hard to destroy is now the greatest thing in the world.  And on top of everything else the Left, who supports higher taxes, are arguing that the tax code unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples.  If that is the basis of this being a civil rights issue the Left could just vote Republican so we can lower taxes for everyone.  Then they could have everything they want.  The free love of the sexual revolution.  Low taxes.  And no reason to get married.

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