I don't think that I want to come back to work after my baby is born. Would it be unethical of me to keep quiet, collect maternity leave and disability, and THEN let the company know I won't be returning?
In a word, yes. But we only wish it was that easy. While the mommy track question undoubtedly creates anxiety, uncertainty, and financial hardship, we truly believe that honesty and an open dialogue is the way to go. Keep in mind that every company is different when it comes to maternity and paternity leave, so do your research before your due date so you know exactly what your options are.
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, parents who have worked at least one year for a mid-size company or larger (50 or more employees) are entitled up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off. We have found that while you can't predict how you're going to feel about going back to work once Baby arrives, for some new parents, those weeks of maternity leave are an excellent gage for deciding whether or not you want to return to work. Either way, leaving your workplace on good and honest terms is the best thing for you down the road. Collecting maternity leave and disability pay only to quit afterwards, hurts not only the company, but your reputation, and the countless number of women who come after you.