4 parental leave trends to watch in 2016

Benefiting You

4 parental leave trends to watch in 2016

Only 37 of the 100 great places to work in the U.S. offer fully paid maternity, paternity or adoption leave. In fact, the U.S. is the only industrialized country that does not offer paid parental leave for working adults.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) does entitle eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Employees are eligible for 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period.

We’re seeing that 12 weeks of unpaid leave isn’t good enough, however, and there’s a real conversation going on about how organizations should be handling parental leave. You hear the discussion in the media, on the campaign trail, and even in the president’s State of the Union address.

Here are some of the trends:

  1. Paternity leave – Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, made headlines when he announced that he would be taking two-months off after the birth of his daughter. More organizations are realizing that parental leave is about mothers and fathers. Retailer Amazon extended leave to cover fathers for the first time. We will see more men taking time off to spend with family and requesting parental leave to do it.
  2. Paid leave – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are currently the only states that offer paid family leave. The government recently added six weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers. The benefits of paid leave outweigh the cost, says Angel Bennett, director in Unum’s Leave Management Center. “Studies show that employees are more loyal and view their employers more favorably when they have paid parental leave.”
  3. Extended leave – After Netflix offered unlimited parental leave, Microsoft announced a new 20-week leave and Adobe increased theirs to 26-weeks. Expect to see more organizations offer extended parental leave benefits as a way to attract and retain talent. Even if the company doesn’t offer paid leave, granting time off has incredible value.
  4. Hourly employees and executives want leave – The Zuckerberg example shows how executives are taking time off. But parental leave applies to employees at every level of the organization. For example, entertainment company Netflix has started offering hourly employees paid parental leave.

Parental leave is a business imperative, not just a business expense. It helps to attract and retain the best talent for the organization, which ultimately has an impact on the bottom-line.

“In the states that currently offer paid parental leaves,” Bennett said, “Studies show 90 percent of employers report either positive or neutral impacts on their business as a result of offering paid parental leave benefits.”

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