Why Paid Parental Leave Is on the Rise

Happy Family with children walking at sunset timeEmployers are continuing the trend of offering more perks for parents, such as paid parental leave, according to a panel at the 2017 EBN Benefits Forum & Expo. The panel, moderated by Simon Borumand, Innovation Imagineer at Mercer, and also featuring Tammy Yee, Vice President of Benefits and Mobility at American Express, and Maria Burns, Director of HR at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, discussed how paid parental leave is one of the hottest employer benefits trends today. Here are five key themes they addressed.

Leave Program Offerings

Borumand said employers are seeing two megatrends right now:

1.  Rising competition for talent is causing employers to create leave policies to retain and attract “the best of the best;” and

2.  A noticeable rise of family-friendly policies.

He also pointed out that an employer can learn from looking at what other organizations are doing, and mentioned some of the employers that have implemented family-friendly policies, including Spotify, Ikea, Netflix, Etsy and Patagonia.

Yee and Burns then discussed the family-friendly policies that are offered at their respective organizations. Yee noted that American Express offers 20 weeks of paid parental leave and an additional six to eight weeks of leave for birthing mothers who require medical leave. Burns said the Boca Raton Resort and Club recently adopted paid parental leave, and they also offer adoption benefits.

Motivation for Paid Parental Leave

Parental leave is an ongoing commitment and investment in employee health and welfare, according to Yee. She noted that societal norms have changed, and the role of a parent has continued to evolve. For example, fathers are facing more work-life conflict now than they have in the past.

Yee explained that parental leave has a far-reaching impact on the workforce and can result in:

  • Mental and physical benefits for employees;
  • Healthier children; and
  • A positive impact on the career advancement of women.

Yee stressed that such policies are good news for everyone. Parents get the time to bond with their new children, and they come back to work energized and ready to do their jobs.

Borumand said that by offering paid parental leave, many employers are trying to build a culture at their organizations where employees can take leave without being questioned about their commitment level to their work and the employer. Burns added that such offerings can prove to be a valuable recruiting tool.

Managing Parental Leave

For parental leave to work for both the employer and the employee, planning is essential. Yee discussed how American Express manages its whole parental leave process. For example, she noted that the organization offers:

  • Preparation and education awareness for employees before they take parental leave;
  • A parent concierge who helps with all of the details surrounding parental leave;
  • Guides for both employees and leaders discussing the process of taking leave and coming back to work;
  • Programs for employees out on leave who want to return; and
  • Lactation consultants for new mothers after they come back to work.

Other Family-Friendly Benefits

Parental leave and adoption benefits are some of the family-friendly benefits that draw a lot of attention, but there are other unique perks that employers are also offering. The panel discussed examples of such benefits, including:

  • Onsite childcare centers;
  • Surrogacy benefits;
  • Fertility benefits;
  • Employee networks specifically for families; and
  • Concierge programs for parents.

Parental Perks and Culture

One of the key takeaways that the panelists agreed upon is that family-friendly policies can have a positive impact on an employer’s culture. Policies and procedures should reflect the organization’s culture in general, and it’s important for an employer to look at a comprehensive suite of benefits.

Yee and Burns also discussed that they believe employers will continue taking more notice of what other organizations are doing and respond to those trends by expanding the benefits they currently offer to their employees. With states and municipalities continuing to pass paid leave laws, employers looking to be aggressive and stay ahead of the curve are going to want to go above and beyond and offer generous parental perks to their employees.

What family-friendly benefits does your organization offer? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.


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