One manager stepped in with the special surprise.

*Featured image contains photo by Matilda Wormwood and cottonbro studios.

Some countries, including Canada, often boast that maternity leave is accessible for everyone for at least a year.

However, what they don’t say is that many women are the sole earners for their family and rely on their entire income to make ends meet, so they can’t take maternity leave even if the government’s policy is seen as generous. 

Lisa Armstrong is a Vancouver Island native who works at A&W and absolutely loves her job. She values her customers and co-workers above all, calling them her “work family.”

Why One Pregnant Woman Couldn’t Take Maternity Leave

pregnant woman
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk

When Lisa announced that she was pregnant, her work family was obviously thrilled for her. 

They were less thrilled when they heard about her plans for maternity leave. In Canada, where Lisa lives, the government offers 12 months of maternity leave at 55% of the previous year’s salary. 

As her family’s sole earner, Lisa needs 100% of her income to get by, so she would not be able to take advantage of the government’s maternity leave program. Instead, she was planning on taking her two weeks of paid vacation, then returning to work afterwards. 

Lisa had no problem working while she was pregnant, but she didn’t expect to go into labor three and a half weeks early. 

The experience was frightening as her baby was born weighing less than five pounds and had to stay in the NICU for a while. Her plan to take only two weeks off for the birth of her son, Declan, was also foiled. 

She didn’t worry too much about the money, all of her energy was spent helping her baby son get strong, but she was happy when her manager Jillyse Fisher visited her in the hospital. Before she left the visit, Jillyse told Lisa that she would take her out to lunch as soon as the new little family felt ready. 

How Teen Employees Decided to Look Out for Their Co-worker

Once Lisa and Declan were feeling ready for it, Jillyse picked them up for the lunch date she’d promised. On the way, she explained to Lisa that they would have to stop by the A&W as there was an urgent renovation issue she needed to tend to. That was a lie.

Once they arrived at the A&W, Lisa found herself at a surprise baby shower — the restaurant’s owners had provided food and cupcakes for the new mom. Then, her colleagues — all teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17 — handed her an envelope. 

“It was $1,011.50 in there. It was almost my full paycheck in there. They didn’t want me to worry. They wanted me to take more time off,” Lisa said.

The expression “it takes a village” is frequently used when we talk about raising a family. What comes to mind is often older, wiser people who can give us tips based on experience or help with childcare because they are retired. 

However, Lisa’s story proves that nobody is too young or too inexperienced to be a key part of your village.

The teenagers who worked together to provide Lisa with something priceless — more time with her baby son — are pillars of her village. What an inspiration!