Celebrating the addition of a baby is an important time for a family. And, as an HR leader you have an important role in reducing stress for new mothers by helping them prepare for their time away from work. New parents have enough to think about! Currently, there is no overarching federal legislation requiring employers to offer paid maternity leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act or FMLA requires employers to grant employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees, but it is only for organizations with more than 50 employees. Recently in 2020, federal government employees were granted up to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave through FMLA, but only 20% of private sector workers have the same. Fortunately, some states have enacted laws that require employers to provide paid parental leave, but everyone else is at the mercy of their company’s maternity leave policy.
What is a Maternity Leave Policy?
A maternity leave policy is a critical part of an organization’s benefits package that gives mothers who have just given birth or adopted a child, guidance on how much time an employer will allow the family to adjust to life after the baby arrives. Some organizations have parental leave policies, paternity leave policies and/or adoption leave policies to accommodate all families’ needs. An established policy will include details on who is eligible for paid maternity leave, how much time can be granted based on laws, and how to make requests.
What is a maternity leave plan?
A maternity leave plan helps your employee and team prepare for a mothers’ temporary leave of absence. It outlines what will be completed prior to the mothers’ departure and who is responsible for tasks while she is out of office.
This is an example of Maternity Leave Plan
|Current Responsibilities||Task Due Date||Assigned Back-Up||Briefing date||Stakeholder/ Client/ Approver Name & Contact Information||Status (update weekly)|
|New Product Project Management||6/24||Jodie Hall||6/1||Whitney Robinson||Packaging design approved. Marketing plan complete.|
Why is offering maternity leave important?
Certainly, a generous well-crafted maternity leave policy can help ease the transition back to work for new mothers but there are also additional benefits to employers who create a maternity leave policy. If you haven’t already established a policy, here are a few reasons why you should consider it.
- Create an equitable environment – Offering maternity leave is important to women’s equity because if not granted, it drives women who choose to become mothers out of the workforce. It also widens the gender wage gap.
- Business continuity – A set policy helps managers manage expectations for how many weeks an employee will be away and plan how work will be re-allocated and resume when the team member returns.
- Recruitment and retention tool – In a recent study, SHRM found that a company’s practice of offering paid parental leave impacted recruitment by 55% and retention by 58%.This benefit enforces a culture where work is balanced and provides clarity to employees who are planning families.
What’s included in a Maternity Leave Policy?
A maternity leave policy generally includes the following:
Your organization’s statement: This statement includes rationale for why your organization believes a maternity policy is important. It can be general or incorporate company core values.
Eligibility definition: This is a definition of who is eligible to receive paid maternity leave based on their status (full-time or part-time).
Duration: An explanation of how the duration of paid leave is calculated for employees.
Legal information: An explanation of how the policy coordinates with federal, state and local laws like FMLA and other organizational policies.
Requests: A maternity leave policy will also outline the process for making a request.
Getting started on your own maternity leave policy is easy with our free customizable template. Fill out the form at the top of the page to download it now to begin.