Bringing a child into the world is a joyous event, but sometimes one aspect threatens to dampen the happiness—taking time off from work. Though United States does not legally require businesses to provide paid maternity leave, cities and states have started to take it upon themselves to provide leave for new parents, with San Francisco approving six weeks of fully-paid leave in early April.
Here’s a look at parental leave offered by other countries:
- The U.K. allows up to 280 days for new mothers and fathers, withparents receiving 90% pay for the first six weeks and then a flat ratefor the duration thereafter.
- Russia (140 days), Brazil (120 days), France (112 days), and Spain(also 112 days) all provide 100% pay for the duration, with only Russialimited to new mothers.
- Canada and Mexico both only provide paid leave for mothers, but stilloffer substantial assistance—Canada provides 119 days off at 55% paywhile Mexico mandates 100% pay over a maximum of 84 days.
As paid leave for new parents continues to be a top issue, it’s a safe bet that wider changes may be coming soon. Let’s take a look at where the country stands, where it’s going, and what the possible effects may be on businesses large and small.
What’s been enacted to date
In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) into law. This is the most recent piece of national legislation to set standards on leave for new parents. Here’s more on the requirements of the FMLA :
- The FMLA requires businesses over 50 employees to provide 12 weeks ofunpaid leave.
- Small businesses under 50 full-time employees are not required toprovide time off for new mothers or fathers.
- Providing longer or paid family leave has been adopted by largercompanies which can handle the financial burden.
Essentially, this has meant workers at midsized and large companies could count on coming back to their same job after 12 weeks, but compensation is not always guaranteed.
However, many states have taken it upon themselves to expand parental leave benefits. Of the 25 states to amend their legislation to enhance FMLA, 14 allow for longer periods of leave and seven have expanded eligibility to employees at companies as small as ten full-time workers. Alaska, California, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island are the only states currently offering some form of compensation as well, with each providing partial pay during the time spent away from work.
What the future could hold for new parents
Because of the lack of mandated compensation in the FMLA and the few states which have passed laws requiring new parents to receive some form of pay, cities and corporations are taking it upon themselves to offer certain benefits to employees. Ernst & Young made news recently by enacting a new policy allowing for new parents to take 16 weeks of fully-paid time off to look after their new child.
Providing paid family leave is a tremendous benefit to families. Thus, it makes these cities or companies all the more attractive to live in or work for. As places receive positive press for having these benefits, others, especially larger businesses, are likely to follow suit in order to keep their workers and attract more.
What’s more, paid maternity leave is just one facet of a larger picture. Paternal leave is becoming more important for new fathers where the mother may need or want to get back to work quickly.
What this means for your business
It’s hard to know if or when a new paid family leave policy could be enacted. But with the independent improvements enacted by companies, cities, and states, change could be on the horizon.
San Francisco’s legislation provides a likely model for changes to come in the near future. California currently provides 55 percent pay for six weeks of leave through employee-financed public disability insurance. The city is mandating that employers provide the money for the remaining 45 percent. By January of 2018, that law will cover all employees with 180 days of tenure at a company of 20 workers or more. The question businesses are asking is whether or not they should get ahead of the curve and provide additional assistance to new parents? There are many factors to take into account, including the cost of providing assistance and covering an employee’s absence while on family leave.
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Sources: Huffington Post, NPR, Wired Magazine, HR Dive