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ThinkstockPhotos-510042349-1.jpgWhile big-name companies like Netflix and Facebook are leading the way in generous paid parental leave benefits, research shows that paid leave benefits are actually growing more slowly than expected, and the number of parents taking leave has remained static. Part of the problem is that parents simply can’t afford to take much unpaid or lower-paid leave when a new baby arrives. Another problem may be that employers with parental leave programs aren’t working hard enough to support new parents in their ranks.

The following articles offer statistics on the current state of parental leave benefits and tips for employers to help workers navigate the use of that leave.

Paid Parental Leave Benefits Not Growing as Quickly as Expected

“ ‘Despite reports from well-known companies that they have expanded their paid-leave benefits, the average amount of parental and caregiving leave provided by U.S. employers has not changed significantly since 2012,’ said the Society for Human Resource Management in a press release accompanying a major study of employer benefits that it conducted in partnership with the Families and Work Institute. … For instance, while the percentage of employers offering some level of paid maternity leave has increased from 46 percent to 58 percent, only 10 percent offer fully-paid leave to new mothers, down from 17 percent in 2005. In fact, the average length of time granted for maternity leave (14.5 weeks) has actually decreased slightly since 2005.” —Read more at BenefitsPRO

Company Culture Must Support a Parental Leave Program

“While intentions may be good, a parental leave program that does little to support employees that use the benefit — or is couched in a culture that looks down on those who take leave — is going to backfire. … For starters, the company culture should make it plainly clear that not only does the benefit exist, but people are encouraged to take it. Employees need to feel comfortable about approaching managers when they know a baby is on the way so that they can access all the help offered by the company. … Real work-life flexibility respects the unique ways each person lives. For a larger parental leave program to work, that attitude needs to be embedded in the company’s culture outright.”  —Read more at HR Dive

Employers Can Help Increase Stagnant Parental Leave Numbers

“[T]he number of U.S. women taking maternity leave has changed very little in the last two-plus decades. So says new research from Ohio State University. … In addition, the study ... found that most women taking maternity leave were not paid. Less than half (48 percent) were compensated for leave in 2015. … There are steps that employers and HR can take, however, to get the needle moving in the right direction. ‘Expand the definition of parent,’ says [Brenna Haviland] Shebel, [director of healthcare cost and delivery at the Washington-based National Business Group on Health.] ‘This will shift the culture of “only certain moms take leave” to the expectation that all parents should take leave. Employers that have made the cultural shift have greater overall success in leave rates.’ ” —Read more at Human Resource Executive Online

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