The Rise in Paid Parental Leave

2016 brings a new push for employers to offer paid parental leave

As the economy continues to improve and top talent becomes harder to find, companies are looking to add new benefits that will make them an attractive employer. Tech companies in Silicon Valley often lead the way with trends in employee benefits, as they have been fighting for the best and the brightest talent for years, AND they have the deep pockets necessary to provide top benefits. Paid parental leave is becoming one of the hottest trends in employee benefits over the last few years. But it’s also one of the most expensive. Not only do companies have to keep paying your salary while you’re out, but they also have to hire someone else to cover your work for you.

It seems as though every few months, you hear of another company overhauling their maternity leave policy. Companies are realizing that they must change their policies to retain their top employees, by offering policies that provide for paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers. Fathers today want to be just as involved in their children’s lives as the mothers are. Parental leave has been proven to be a great benefit, as it allows parents and babies the opportunity to bond and establish schedules. While on leave, new parents can spend time establishing routines that will further allow for a successful and productive return to work.

Some of the companies leading the way with parental leave programs include:

  • Netflix – 1 year paid parental leave for new mothers and fathers.
  • Well Fargo – 16 weeks paid leave for new mothers and fathers, plus up to 5 consecutive days off to care for sick family members.
  • Adobe – 26 weeks paid maternity leave and 16 weeks paid time for primary caregivers.
  • Johnson & Johnson – 15 weeks paid maternity leave and 8 weeks paid paternity/adoption leave.
  • Bank of America – 12 weeks paid time off plus an additional 14 weeks unpaid time off.
  • Twitter – 20 weeks off for both new mothers and fathers.
  • Etsy – 26 weeks paid leave for new parents after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Microsoft – 12 weeks paid parental leave for all new parents.

While it’s great that there are dozens of companies that recognize the benefits of extended paid, parental leave, the fact still remains that only 1 in 10 working Americans have access to a paid parental leave program. In fact, the United States is the only industrialized country without a mandated parental leave program. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) remains the only option for most working Americans, which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees. New parents are left to try and scrape together as much vacation and sick time as they can to create their own, albeit, much shorter paid parental leave. Most families can’t go without a salary for that long, so one or both parents often end up returning to work much sooner than they would like.

New York State made history last month when Governor Cuomo passed the 2016-2017 state budget, which included a paid family leave policy. This employee funded policy is the first of its kind in the US. When the policy is “fully phased-in, employees will be eligible for 12 weeks of paid leave when caring for an infant, a family member with a serious health condition or to relieve family pressures when someone is called to active military service.” Bonding with a new child or caring for a seriously ill family member shouldn’t be a burden that could cost you your job or your savings.

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