By Sarah Brydon, Absence Solutions Manager
Oh, Paid Family Leave, how complex you are.
No two state-mandated programs are the same. More states are likely to pass new programs in the next couple years, and surely each one of those will have unique challenges as well. Washington and Massachusetts are in the process of rolling out Paid Family Leave and Paid Medical Leave right now; as we sit tight and wait for guidance and finalized regulations.
And yet, Paid Family Leave has a lot of things going for it. It’s one of the most effective tools for recruiting and retaining talented employees. Employee morale and productivity goes up because it eases financial stress. When an employee needs to be out of work for family leave, they’re under plenty of stress as it is.
It’s no wonder 88% of employers in a 2016 survey thought they should offer Paid Family Leave. Back then, only 18% of employers actually did. In just two short years, that number jumped to 27%. We assume that will continue to climb, just as more states will roll out their own programs.
How to get the most out of Paid Family Leave
Whether you decide to offer a company-specific Paid Family Leave program or you’re dealing with a state-mandated program, there are ways to make sure you get the positive results you should expect from it.
- If you’re offering a company-specific program, consider including leave to care for family members, not just leave for new parents. This can build support (and cut down on resentment) among employees who don’t plan to have children.
- Within a company program, it’s best to treat all new parents equally. Women who’ve given birth can certainly take more time off to recover from childbirth. Beyond that, though, the same amount of time should be provided to all new parents for bonding. Otherwise, you could end up facing a discrimination lawsuit. Even if nobody sues you, you still don’t want employees – especially millennials! – frustrated at an outdated assumption that women are more involved parents than men.
- Make sure your employees know they can use these benefits when they need to. You can do that by putting it in writing, but make sure your workplace culture reflects this too. Paid Family Leave isn’t an effective retention tool if employees worry that taking time will hurt their careers.