May 8th, 2008

Best Idea Ever!


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Married White Female

Over the past few weeks the British and French press have been filled with various articles on a single topic:

In both countries it is virtually impossible for a newly married or engaged woman to get a job. Nobody will hire them.

The reason is simple. The solution seems nearly impossible.

The problem is that both countries have laws that provide for a large amount of paid maternity leave. Which means that when a woman becomes pregnant and takes many months off from work her company not only has to keep her job open for her, but has to hire a replacement.

But... it's also very, very hard to fire people. So, the replacement then ends up becoming a permanent additional employee.

Now, this isn't so bad for a huge corporation like IBM or Dell. But, imagine if you were a small business with 10 employees and a tight budget. Can you really afford to pay one employee who isn't working for months at a time and another person to do her job at the same time. Particularly, if both employees are permanent hires. (Note, the French system is so fucking complex I'm honestly unsure if it's the French government who pays the maternity leave, the employer or some combination of the two. But, either way the basic problem remains.)

The debate also pulls to the surface a strange bit of naiveté in both countries - since employers apparently have no problem hiring single women in their 20s. You'd think it would occur to them that those women are also "at risk" for becoming pregnant.

No one knows what to do about this. Obviously, maternity leave is a good thing - particularly in France where there is a declining birth rate. And, any politician who suggested getting rid of maternity leave would be voted out of office in 10 seconds flat.

But, it's also a bad idea to have a situation that makes an entire class of people virtually unemployable. And, clearly it discourages marriage - since any smart, ambitious woman looking for a job will simply choose to cohabitate with her potential husband, whether or not she's thinking about getting pregnant.

Sunny Day

I had to see my shrink earlier in the morning than I'm usually up and about and it ended up being a good thing.

On the walk back it was so nice and sunny out that I said "fuck it."

I did a couple blog posts and then went out and sat in cafes and read Norman Mailer all day.

I haven't taken a full day off from work in forever and it felt fucking awesome.