Paid parental leave isn’t required under federal law. This means the United States is among only a few developed nations without a mandate for employers to offer compensated time off to mothers and fathers following the birth or adoption of a child. (Some states do have laws on the books.) Prevailing public opinion and the recent moves of some large employers, however, indicate a rising interest in this benefit.
For example, 82% of respondents to a 2017 Pew Research Center poll said mothers should receive paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. (Sixty-nine percent said the same of fathers.) Meanwhile, mega-employer Walmart just launched an expanded parental leave policy this year. It features 10 paid weeks off for birth mothers and six weeks for other new parents, applicable to both hourly and salaried workers.
Potential advantages for employers
Is now the time for your organization to offer paid parental leave? Although it helps employees, of course, parental leave can also benefit employers. Here are some potential advantages:
Reduced turnover and improved retention. Many employees starting or growing their families will simply leave rather than try to manage limited time off or work with a baby at home. In turn, their employers will face the high costs of hiring and training replacements.
More consistent productivity. High turnover typically acts as a drag on productivity. As employees depart, those who remain on the job can’t always pick up the slack. A formal parental leave policy can help employers anticipate and mitigate productivity slowdowns.
Enhanced competitiveness in the job market. In many industries, competition for skilled workers is fierce. Employers both large and small may be able to leverage a parental leave policy to attract talent. This can especially be true when competing for hires globally — as mentioned, most developed nations already require employers to offer paid parental leave.
Naturally, these benefits aren’t guaranteed. Whether establishing a parental leave policy now or in the future will call for a careful analysis of the needs and nature of your workforce, as well as the costs involved. Please contact us for more information.