Top employers know that job flexibility, excellent benefits, and great company culture are key factors when it comes to attracting and retaining leading talent.
But what does that mean when it comes to supporting employees during one of the most significant and challenging milestones of their lives?
Transitioning into parenthood is understood to be an incredibly important phase of life and an undeniably special time for parents and their families.
However, a new baby also requires a massive re-orientation of relationships; not to mention physical, mental, emotional, and economic resources.
With round-the-clock feedings, diaper changing, endless piles of laundry, cleanups, check-ups and bonding time – the tasks associated with infant care require a huge shift in daily routine.
Adjusting to the changes and demands can be stressful, to say the least.
And yes expensive.
Contributing to this pressure is the fact that most families will spend a minimum of $10,000 on their child in the first year alone.
The truth is that nothing can replace the joyful and precious moments shared with your little one as they experience the world for the first time.
But for so many workers with no or inadequate parental leave benefits, money and work stress is a huge factor in the most important decisions they will make in those first few weeks as new parents.
- Can I afford to take time off work?
- Will I lose my job if I do?
- Will I be physically recovered enough to return to work so soon?
- Can I find, and afford quality child care?
These are just a few of the questions facing the 40-50% of Americans whose employer does not offer paid parental time off.
- U.S. legislation does not require employers to provide paid parental leave.
- Canada does provide paid maternity / paternity leave through to eligible employees through Employment Insurance, however, strict conditions must be met and benefits cover only a portion of the employee’s regular salary.
For the average family, the stark financial reality of childbirth without paid parental leave means making some tough decisions.
Lack of paid parental leave often means one of the parents (usually the mother) will either be forced to leave work behind – along with her income – in order to care for her child; or else feel forced to return to work before she is ready. For dads, navigating paternity leave is also tricky, at best.
In fact, a study by Boston College stated that 86% of male respondents would not take paternity leave unless at least 70 percent of their salary was covered.
Reflecting this attitude, a US Department of Labor study found that, on average, new dads were taking just 10 days or less off work when their child is born.
Thankfully, these stats are changing.
Paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers has been steadily increasing since 2014. Along with the obvious benefit to employees (and their families), research now indicates that paid parental leave programs are actually good for the economy.
And the really good news?
It’s not just large corporations who are upping their game when it comes to paid parental leave (we mention some of the bigger names here); With a little planning and a great system, any business can afford to provide this essential benefit to their employees.
Here Are 5 Companies Doing Parental Leave The RIGHT WAY, For The RIGHT Reasons in 2019:
This Canadian company offers an online investment management solution targeted to millennials – and a generous top-up of up to 100% of salary for the first 6 months of paternal leave to their 175 employees.
General manager Jason Goldlist is a young father himself. He emphasizes the importance of ‘leading by example’ when it comes to taking paternity leave, saying, “If we don’t use it, then it’s not really a benefit we can confidently talk about with our team” Goldlist explained.
2. Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
As a Seattle-based small business success story, entrepreneur Molly Moon Neitzel has taken pride in building a company that is a leader in labor practices. Her employees (affectionately referred to as the “Mooncrew”) receive 12 weeks of 100% paid parental leave, which Neitzel points out is roughly the same cost of hiring and training a new replacement.
“The financial impact to our business was not noticeable at all, but the impact to morale and an overall feeling of support in our company is noticeable,” she says.
3. Acceleration Partners
A digital marketing agency founded in 2007, Acceleration Partners has won numerous awards for their industry performance and great company culture – including a nod as one of Forbes Small Giants in 2018. Their policy and process for parental leave have helped them earn recognition as a top workplace for women.
New parents receive up to eight weeks of paid leave and an additional four weeks unpaid. The team follows a process to delegate tasks during the absence, which is supportive of both the staff as well as the company’s systems and output.
“We ask employees to draw up plans for their own coverage, support, and escalation before they go on leave. When they return and don’t need to take back 20–30% of their old duties, they often find themselves in different or more elevated roles.” CEO Robert Glazer explains.
Named one of BC’s Top Employers in 2019, Vancity is a financial co-op with over 525,000 member-owners and 59 branches throughout British Columbia. Their employees enjoy a generous maternity and parental leave top-up – including up to 85% of salary for 78 weeks. Vancity has also increased parental leave for new dads and adoptive parents to 85% of salary for 61 weeks.
With a strong emphasis on values-based principles, CEO Tamara Vrooman is dedicated to supporting the full economic participation of women. Vancity has been internationally recognized for its employee benefits and company culture.
5. Taft Stettinius & Hollister
More commonly known as “Taft”, this U.S.-based law firm holds 10 offices and employs approximately 450 attorneys. Since 2017, they have provided industry-leading benefits for their attorneys, including 16 weeks of paid leave to parents of newborns regardless of gender, marital status, or whether they are the primary or secondary caregiver. These generous benefits become available beginning on the first day of employment.
“There is tremendous momentum underway at Taft to ensure a modern workplace culture that is truly inclusive, flexible and supportive of a strong work/life balance,” says Sonya S. Jindal, a partner in the firm.
So, what are the RIGHT reasons for businesses to create a great parental leave policy?
- Improves retention – more employees returning to work following leave.
- Can eliminate the cost of hiring and retraining.
- Supports the health and well-being of employees and their families.
- Helps attract and maintain top talent who remain happy, focused, and engaged at work.
Why is this such an important discussion in 2019? Continue reading to learn more about The Current State of Parental Leave in America.
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