Supporting working parents is no small task for HR leaders. Building a supportive, inclusive workplace for moms and dads, then filling the gap of an employee on paid family leave requires planning, communication, and oversight.
It wasn’t that long ago that paid family leave was only offered to women. But now, paternity leave is becoming a popular employee benefit for new dads, surrogate fathers, partners of pregnant women, and men matched with a child for adoption. A recent Guardian survey found that 62% of these dads are taking time off for their newborns.
It’s also increasingly common for young professionals to wait until they are established in their careers before starting families. As the NY Times noted, American women are delaying motherhood to their 30s as opposed to their twenties, which means more companies will have superstars on their payrolls wanting to take advantage of the family leave benefits.
With both parents often working to cover monthly expenses and more workers waiting to have kids until they’re established in their careers, HR leaders are hiring more working parents. As more of these parents in the workforce cash in their paid family leave benefits, HR leaders are left asking questions like:
How will I fill this void while an employee is on leave? How can our company make up for gaps in workflow? What if they take leave and never come back?
It’s a complex problem. Thankfully, part one of our two-part series offers four tweaks your organization can make to support working parents while still being equitable to your company.
Offer More Sick Days – Between pre-school, school-school, summer camp, ballet, and Karate, kids are exposed to everything. And they bring it home. When your employee’s child takes a sick day, it means the employee takes a sick day. Consequently, a working parent may utilize more sick days than someone without kids. Having access to additional sick days in their PTO quiver can help working parents juggle the schedule disruption a kid home from school creates.
If a candidate is negotiating for a higher salary, one counter is to offer more paid sick days. Both sides get something from the deal.
Provide Maternity Leave AND Paternity Leave – Make all full-time employees eligible for paid family leave. When a candidate is considering a new role, the benefits package plays an important factor. If a working parent is weighing multiple offers, a package that is more family-oriented could sway that potential new hire your way.
Since it’s more common now for moms and dads to be established in their careers before starting families, offering paid family leave is an attractive draw. By providing this benefit to both parents, you aren’t eliminating top talent from joining your organization — you attract it.
All Benefits Start Simultaneously – Generally, when a new employee is hired, most benefits (PTO, sick days, health insurance) kick in after the first ninety days of employment. But to solve for the increase in working parents in the workforce, many organizations don’t offer maternity and paternity benefits until the first 52 weeks of employment are completed.
But what is an employee supposed to do if a baby is due before that one-year mark?
In this case, a company should have a reasonable plan in place (that doesn’t entail the employee forfeiting all their sick days or PTO) to support parental leave and be upfront with employees about job protection.
Better yet, have all benefits, including paid family leave, kick in after the first 90 days. Doing so would simultaneously eliminate this stressful HR headache and protect your company while administering benefits.
Recharge Paid Leave — What happens when a new parent on your payroll wants to have a second baby?
Do they quit? Find a new job? Wait for next year’s benefits to start? It might be easier for everybody if that valued employee stays in their current role and receives another round of paid leave.
Many businesses structure their PTO hours to slowly accrue as their employees log working hours. This policy protects the employer from a new employee enjoying a paid holiday and quitting while still providing a competitive benefit. Why not do the same for multiple rounds of paid family leave?
By retooling your company’s benefits structure to include more sick days for working families, providing paid leave for both parents that begins when all benefits kick in and setting up a rechargeable leave structure, you can raise the support you provide working parents while your employees raise their little ones.
IMA will continue to monitor regulator guidance and offer meaningful, practical, timely information.
This material should not be considered as a substitute for legal, tax and/or actuarial advice. Contact the appropriate professional counsel for such matters. These materials are not exhaustive and are subject to possible changes in applicable laws, rules, and regulations and their interpretations.