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Re: Maternity Leave and Top Rated PLUS Status

sitehive
Active Member
Svitlana G Member Since: Feb 18, 2019
BEST ANSWER
21 of 33

I think it’s fair that I should offer some specifics if I’m making a suggestion.

 

Having an option of freezing the stats in certain cases does bring concerns about 

1. Basis / verification for it.

2. Generating advantage over other users.

3. Effect on the quality of service the clients can get on the platform.

 

Stating this is pretty obvious, so I honestly thought we’d at least get to discussing how it unfolds and if there are ways to manage it - or not. Both options are possible, if that’s not obvious either. Another obvious thought to get out of the way: the list might not be final.




1. Basis: It seems indefinitely complicated to verify maternity leave with some off-platform proof (documents or sth). I think an alternative to verification is risk of penalty or giving up another benefit in exchange. 

 

Maternity itself, as well as engaging in work after birth, are both choices (since we are counting obvious thoughts, there’s another one). A possible solution would be setting up a choice as well. For example, maternity leave can be set to minimum 3-6-N months, and during that time the profile is private (=no new contracts) + the stats are frozen, and you can’t get it back earlier even if you change your mind. The limit could be made shorter or longer, depending on what you think is harder to exploit unfairly? Being determined enough to give up work for a long time, or having to get back to work quickly, which minimizes the difference from working freelancers (making it more “fair”). Another limit would be frequency: for example, only once in 3 years.

 

Pausing current contracts can be added on top, similarly to the real-life choice between working or getting unemployment benefits. A sacrifice to level with fairness. However, this impacts the current clients that stand to lose a contractor now, when they did not have to. This is an open-ended point so far.



2. Fairness: May be supported by making this a general long-term leave option, available to all users, but, again, narrowly tailored so it’s not beneficial to exploit it. In the initial post I made a contrast between maternity leave and medical leave, long-term vacations. I thought that if I suggested a universal approach to all of these, it would be considered too broad and outrageous. Little did I know, that a narrow & specific case is too outrageous to bring up as well =) 

 

Also, in my case, it was mentioned that Top Rated plus is not universal enough, which must be true. 

 

If this was universal, would it shift from a fairness perspective to a useful accomodation for all users of the platform? Or would it water down the requirements and make the system just weaker overall? I think this would be a concern for many…  I would assume not, because if you are taking a leave, YOU lose the most. Not the others because you did and they didn’t. My view is if there’s a high enough price to pay for an option (same as effort in reaching a certain award), the system remains firm & balanced.



3. Quality for clients: The expiration factor of badges, as well as freelancer’s availability setting, ensure the highlighted freelancers are active and open to more work. I’m not sure if the expiration factor is indicative of the quality of your skills, because that lies in the feedback & earnings/contract factors. It adds a bit of recency to them, but if your pitch ever mentioned sth like X+ years in the industry, a diploma etc., non-recent skills & experience must be ok, right? Smiley Wink

 

| SIDENOTE: from what I’ve seen, the better you get, the less new projects you consider, because you get referrals, you get pickier, you have a pull of existing clients, clients get bigger, they require more time, you up your rate. Oftentimes, you may end up less available for new work, than you were before reaching certain milestones. So the recency element of your badge is a bit arbitrary. On top of that, the ‘back-to-work’ freelancers who took a leave, might be more active and interested, than those that did not leave. That is fresh blood of high quality and beneficial for clients.

 

I have a simple judgement here, the clients get a whole range of freelancers. Those who are not available ANYWAY, with or without the “leave” option, are not there because they lost their rating or because they are set to private. When they are back, arguably they still have their qualities, but I’m honestly too tired now to try to expand more on that. 

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jr-translation
Community Guru
Jennifer R Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
22 of 33

This is the fate of a working mother.

I made several observations:

  1. You must not work when you have children. Being a mother is a fulltime job. It is irrelevant that you have a professional career, these are only for people that plan on receiving some kind of pension when they are older. As a mother you are there so sacrifice your future for your child/ren.
  2. Use daycare if you can. Some countries do provide daycare or such for small children. Some only on paper. If you can, use daycare but don't be surprised if you are labelled an uncaring mother. It basically leads back to 1, but who cares.
  3. It takes 2 to become 3. Get your partner involved. It might be a struggle at first because some people start to panic when confronted with a crying infant. They need clear instructions. Start with sending the father and baby on a stroll on the days the father is not working. Once they are out of the way...
  4. Take time off for yourself. This could be for some extra sleep or to catch up with some work.
  5. Award yourself the Superduper Plus badge. You are managing a lifelong client even though the worth of this contract cannot be expressed in $$$.
sitehive
Active Member
Svitlana G Member Since: Feb 18, 2019
23 of 33

Jennifer R wrote:

This is the fate of a working mother.

I made several observations:

  1. You must not work when you have children. Being a mother is a fulltime job. It is irrelevant that you have a professional career, these are only for people that plan on receiving some kind of pension when they are older. As a mother you are there so sacrifice your future for your child/ren.
  2. Use daycare if you can. Some countries do provide daycare or such for small children. Some only on paper. If you can, use daycare but don't be surprised if you are labelled an uncaring mother. It basically leads back to 1, but who cares.
  3. It takes 2 to become 3. Get your partner involved. It might be a struggle at first because some people start to panic when confronted with a crying infant. They need clear instructions. Start with sending the father and baby on a stroll on the days the father is not working. Once they are out of the way...
  4. Take time off for yourself. This could be for some extra sleep or to catch up with some work.
  5. Award yourself the Superduper Plus badge. You are managing a lifelong client even though the worth of this contract cannot be expressed in $$$.

 

Thank you for the insights, Jennifer!) This is very kind input, and it’s appreciated!

In my case, all I care for now is getting the first days and hours of the experience. There will come time to plan and address issues beyond that. This is how I like to approach work, paying attention to every detail and making the experience as full and efficient as possible. It’s the same preference for maternity, which is why I plan on a longer leave, but it does not have to be accommodated for by an option I’m proposing. I would like to have an option, does not mean it has to fit me specifically. =) 

browersr
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
24 of 33

I completely empathize with this need. The fact is that 50% of the population has no choice but to deal with this circumstance while the other 50% , no matter how much they want or do participate, still has the freedom to work without the medical realities of carrying and birthing a child. 

 

Having stated the above and UW is not your employer. They are a service provider you use to facilitate your work. It is impractical on such a platform to manage this sort of thing without being exposed to fraud and privacy concerns plus valid complaints that it doesn't cover illness, injury, etc. 

 

There are pros/cons when considering full time employment versus freelancing. As is typical in life, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.  I cannot speak to how all countries handle this, but in the US you can join a company and get maternity/paternity leave and FMLA. You also have vacation and sick time. So one gets paid while not working. This is a clear perk of being an employee depending on company and position. Freelancing gives you the freedom to do as you wish and in whatever manner you wish. A side effect of this freedom comes the lack of the traditional safety net offered by full time employment.  The reality is that we cannot have all of the perks of traditional employment with all of the perks of freelancing. You go with the best option for you knowing you will lose out on the perks of the other.

jr-translation
Community Guru
Jennifer R Member Since: Sep 15, 2017
25 of 33

Scott B wrote:

There are pros/cons when considering full time employment versus freelancing. As is typical in life, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.  I cannot speak to how all countries handle this, but in the US you can join a company and get maternity/paternity leave and FMLA. You also have vacation and sick time. So one gets paid while not working. This is a clear perk of being an employee depending on company and position. Freelancing gives you the freedom to do as you wish and in whatever manner you wish. A side effect of this freedom comes the lack of the traditional safety net offered by full time employment.  The reality is that we cannot have all of the perks of traditional employment with all of the perks of freelancing. You go with the best option for you knowing you will lose out on the perks of the other.


I was an employee with a permanent contract when I went into labour. A few weeks later I got the message that the company needs to let go some people and I was one of them. So no real protection there.

Being a freelancer allows me to be flexible with my time which is great with a small kid. Not having the daily pressure of dropping off the kid and then being at my desk by 8am is great.

In the last year this has changed. The pandemic allowed employees to take paid leave and look after the kids if daycare is closed, as a freelancer I often work late or at weekends to meet deadlines. It would be so much easier without a kid but then you don't get questions like "Which colour do I have to use to colour something transparent."

feed_my_eyes
Community Guru
Christine A Member Since: May 4, 2016
26 of 33

Jennifer R wrote:

It would be so much easier without a kid but then you don't get questions like "Which colour do I have to use to colour something transparent."

Actually, you don't need a kid for that. I once had a client and was asking him questions about his likes and dislikes, and he told me that his favourite colour was "clear". I was sorely tempted to send him a blank sheet of paper and say, "Here you go - that'll be $500." (Sorry, I know this is off topic, but Jennifer's post reminded me of this incident.)

 

On topic - I think there have been good points made on both sides, but at the end of the day, Upwork is based in the U.S., which I think will make the whole maternity leave issue an uphill battle. Women there take an average of only 10 weeks off work, and apparently 1 in 4 women take less than 10 days (!). So I think you'd have a hard time convincing an American company that women should have a full year off, because it's just not the done thing there. 

 

sitehive
Active Member
Svitlana G Member Since: Feb 18, 2019
27 of 33

Christine A wrote:

On topic - I think there have been good points made on both sides, but at the end of the day, Upwork is based in the U.S., which I think will make the whole maternity leave issue an uphill battle. Women there take an average of only 10 weeks off work, and apparently 1 in 4 women take less than 10 days (!). So I think you'd have a hard time convincing an American company that women should have a full year off, because it's just not the done thing there.

Thank you for sharing the details! It’s an interesting angle re US + the common duration for a maternity leave. If Upwork introduced some sort of maternity / universal leave option, and it would be 10 weeks max, I’d be glad to consider it and prob not take it as a personal preference. I would be also glad to know this is a choice for all the other women / users. This is a real-life need for everyone at some point. Being tied up to work is not in the spirit of freelance. Choosing to exceed over others because you work and they are hanging out - totally is.

sitehive
Active Member
Svitlana G Member Since: Feb 18, 2019
28 of 33

Scott B wrote:

I completely empathize with this need. The fact is that 50% of the population has no choice but to deal with this circumstance while the other 50% , no matter how much they want or do participate, still has the freedom to work without the medical realities of carrying and birthing a child. 

 

Having stated the above and UW is not your employer. They are a service provider you use to facilitate your work. It is impractical on such a platform to manage this sort of thing without being exposed to fraud and privacy concerns plus valid complaints that it doesn't cover illness, injury, etc. 

 

There are pros/cons when considering full time employment versus freelancing. As is typical in life, we cannot have our cake and eat it too.  I cannot speak to how all countries handle this, but in the US you can join a company and get maternity/paternity leave and FMLA. You also have vacation and sick time. So one gets paid while not working. This is a clear perk of being an employee depending on company and position. Freelancing gives you the freedom to do as you wish and in whatever manner you wish. A side effect of this freedom comes the lack of the traditional safety net offered by full time employment.  The reality is that we cannot have all of the perks of traditional employment with all of the perks of freelancing. You go with the best option for you knowing you will lose out on the perks of the other.


 

Thank you for the warm and empathetic answer, Scott! 

I mentioned this before, but I have to stress it again Smiley Happy This does not concern getting some sort of security or getting paid, we have to admit that. 

Although it is logical to make the employee / independent contractor comparison, there is no appeal for material benefits in the first place. So that comparison instantly weighs in favor of closing the issue, because, OF COURSE, asking for monetary support from Upwork would be khm.. a bit much, wouldn’t it? 

 

I can’t shake the feeling that it’s viewed as if I need an explanation on independence / freelance… But maybe I need to explain the approach.Smiley Happy

I believe you can ask for options without hoping to shift responsibility / get undeserved social security and benefits / and overall crawl under some sort of protection. Just as a fun example - in my case, I live in Ukraine. And being an employee is not far off being a freelancer. You are the source of your security. And then, success, as much of it as you can get. But it must be the underlying truth for millions of people regardless of their country. And it’s not bad at all. But, with this mindset, it’s just surprising to be told not to expect security from Upwork, when you never expected that from any employer or the society in general Smiley Very Happy.

 

Service options of a platform we use, and pay a good fee for, are completely up for discussion and evaluation. And, they are the platform’s prerogative in the end. 2 statements can be true at the same time. 

I also addressed the management part of this (fraud, fairness etc.) in the last post, and I’d be glad to discuss the details. 

 

I understand and I agree, that it may end up a King-sized burger of implications. 

 

So far, it’s mentioned broadly by everyone, but it’s hard to start thinking about, if examples and specific points are not brought up. I tried to come up with some. So I think further discussion would be fair if it bounced off those or similar specifics. For example, Is there really a need to prove your reason for a leave, when you are the one who’s losing money and career opportunities? What’s the incentive for fraud? (That would work if there would be a universal leave option, of course, not just maternity).

browersr
Community Guru
Scott B Member Since: Nov 20, 2015
29 of 33

"I believe you can ask for options without hoping to shift responsibility / get undeserved social security and benefits / and overall crawl under some sort of protection. Just as a fun example - in my case, I live in Ukraine. And being an employee is not far off being a freelancer. You are the source of your security. And then, success, as much of it as you can get. But it must be the underlying truth for millions of people regardless of their country. And it’s not bad at all. But, with this mindset, it’s just surprising to be told not to expect security from Upwork, when you never expected that from any employer or the society in general Smiley Very Happy".

 

In the broadest sense you are right in that there is no perfect security. You may have what is available to you via an employment contract (if it exists) but otherwise for the most part you aren't guaranteed. As an extreme example, a company may simply go out of business. However, from a practical standpoint there is a huge difference between what you can expect as an employee versus as a freelancer. Also, in general, there certainly is more security when an FTE versus a freelancer. This is as a general rule and again does not apply to all. I do not think it is a fair or accurate comparison to equate the security and benefits of an FTE role with what UW provides as a service provider. The freelancer is their own business here and that, from a security perspective, simply is much different than typical employment.

 

"For example, Is there really a need to prove your reason for a leave, when you are the one who’s losing money and career opportunities? What’s the incentive for fraud? (That would work if there would be a universal leave option, of course, not just maternity)."

 

Yes. Let's say you aren't pregnant but rather want to take an extended leave for global travel or to engage in other activities. You don't necessarily expect to leave for good, but you want to step away for an extended duration. Boy would it be great to come back with all benefits intact and pick up right where you left off as if nothing happened? So you say you are pregnant which allows you to side step the rules while you go about your global travels and when you return you start up again with all privileges having not had to comply with the measure required to be in the program. I am not suggesting that, Svitlana, would do that. However, are there freelancers on this platform who would take such advantage for a number of reasons? Absolutely. 

 

sitehive
Active Member
Svitlana G Member Since: Feb 18, 2019
30 of 33

Scott B wrote:

 

In the broadest sense you are right in that there is no perfect security. You may have what is available to you via an employment contract (if it exists) but otherwise for the most part you aren't guaranteed. As an extreme example, a company may simply go out of business. However, from a practical standpoint there is a huge difference between what you can expect as an employee versus as a freelancer. Also, in general, there certainly is more security when an FTE versus a freelancer. This is as a general rule and again does not apply to all. I do not think it is a fair or accurate comparison to equate the security and benefits of an FTE role with what UW provides as a service provider. The freelancer is their own business here and that, from a security perspective, simply is much different than typical employment.

 

"For example, Is there really a need to prove your reason for a leave, when you are the one who’s losing money and career opportunities? What’s the incentive for fraud? (That would work if there would be a universal leave option, of course, not just maternity)."

 

Yes. Let's say you aren't pregnant but rather want to take an extended leave for global travel or to engage in other activities. You don't necessarily expect to leave for good, but you want to step away for an extended duration. Boy would it be great to come back with all benefits intact and pick up right where you left off as if nothing happened? So you say you are pregnant which allows you to side step the rules while you go about your global travels and when you return you start up again with all privileges having not had to comply with the measure required to be in the program. I am not suggesting that, Svitlana, would do that. However, are there freelancers on this platform who would take such advantage for a number of reasons? Absolutely. 


 

This is logical, so that’s why I actually mentioned that the question stands for a universal leave option, not maternity. I also layed out a few thoughts on that in the longread before. You don’t have to read it, but if we are having a conversation, you can understand that it feels a bit strange that I’m getting explained about simple things and not the points I expressed. Would you like to say something about those?

 

Perhaps, once again, I should make it even clearer:

  • “UW is not an employer” - no such point in the 1st place. But we can act as if. To make an unbalanced comparison of social securities vs a digital option Smiley Happy 
  • Point that was made: UW is a service provider and I’m asking for a service option.

 

  • “Use maternity leave for a vacation. Come back with all benefits intact and pick up right where you left off as if nothing happened?” - literally specified that this was not the implication. 
  • Question that was asked: for a universal leave option, what would be the incentive for a fraud?

 

Final question: What is the actual downside of, for example, a 3 months universal leave option that you can take once in 3 years? 

We can label it with certain emotional appeal, like it’s egoistical or too much or unfair and a burden on the system. And that really makes me wonder, can we have a clear-minded thought on that? Or are all thoughts preconditioned and boxed?

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