Article creator image

BY Fairygodboss

The Ideal Parental Leave Policy

Image of Perfect Policy

Photo credit: Creative Commons

TAGS: Maternity leave, FMLA, Company culture, Adobe, Google, Etsy, Parental leave, Paternity leave, Compensation

People often ask us what the ideal parental leave policy looks like.

Last week, Etsy announced a parental leave policy for employees that a Huffington Post headline described as “basically perfect.” Starting in April, the company will offer employees around the world who have biological or adoptive children 26 paid weeks of parental leave regardless of the parent’s gender and who — if anyone — is the “primary caregiver.” Etsy is right to be proud of it’s new policy and have even helpfully explained their thinking as more than the right thing to do, providing a series of business justifications for their actions.

What do we think? We accept that the ideal world may involve no assumptions about gender roles and care-taking, and involves equal parental involvement of the raising of children. And of course we applaud employers like Etsy and Facebook who offer parental leave policies that treat people equally whether they are men or women, straight, gay, hourly, international or domestic employees.

That said, we would hate for the “perfect” policy to become the enemy of earnest efforts to make progress. There are so many employers outside Silicon Valley (and even within the technology sector) that for one reason or another are unlikely to adopt policies such as those in place at Etsy, Google or Adobe. Millions of employees out there who are about to become parents, or just interested in becoming parents one day in the future would be happy to simply see their companies improve their offerings.

For some that may mean offering short-term disability where there is currently no policy at all except FMLA. For others it may mean moving away from short-term disability insurance offerings to an actual paid maternity leave policy. For those with maternity leave policies already in place, that may mean increasing the number of paid weeks, implementing a paternity leave offering, or re-writing the maternity leave policy to be gender-neutral. In short, we applaud all progress and efforts to make progress.

Headline-generating policies are great for creating a “race to the top” when it comes to benefits, but we would hate for those extremely generous benefits to be dismissed by employers as gilded perks for “other people”, or inapplicable to them. To that end, we have found some sample policies that may be helpful to companies who either have no policies in place, or who are looking to understand their options:

Sample FMLA Policy

Sample Short-Term Disability Policy

Sample Template for Paid Maternity Leave Policy (for Mothers)

Sample Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy

For a small fee, the Society for Human Resource Management and legal services sites such as Nolo also provide resources for employers looking for templates and sample documents.

Of course, policies are different than what happens in practice. At companies such as Facebook where paternity leave is a fully paid 4 months for fathers, for example, the average parental leave taken by men averages 2 months whereas the majority of women at Facebook take the full four months of maternity leave. Some of this is due to cultural norms and the stigma men may face if they are seen as prioritizing their family and personal lives over their jobs and careers. In the UK, for example, we’ve just seen the one year anniversary of a law that allows both parents to share up to one year of joint parental leave. During the first 6 months after the law was passed, less than 2% of eligible fathers have taken any time off.

In short, policies are just the beginning. Employer culture still matters even when you have the “perfect” policy.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

 

Related Community Discussions

  • I recently got engaged, will be married October 2017. My fiance and I want to start a family right away. My job does not have paid maternity leave. Would it be premature for me to advocate for paid leave? My initial thought process was to figure this out as soon as possible. Maybe I should start looking for another job; researching other companies I noticed that most (all the one's that I saw) require employees to have been employed for a year before being offered paid maternity leave.

    If I could have my way I would stay where I am at and get paid leave.

    I have a positive relationship with my boss and can talk about this with him, however; he isn't the one who ultimately makes this decision, corporate does.

  • I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and gearing up to go on maternity leave at the end of the month. I recently came across a new job oppurnity that would be better for my family. I'm at the finishing stages of interviewing with this new company and I am worried that I will find out I got the job while on maternity leave. My question is, what happens to my maternity benefits and how do I go about leaving my current job without issue?

  • Any advice for someone searching for work during their first trimester of pregnancy? I currently work with a temp agency for income and am applying for my next role. From what I've read on the boards, it seems that most women are firmly established at their companies but I was forced to look for a new role outside of my former company due to a health condition. They were unwilling to move me to a different role within the company. Any suggestions on how to navigate the next 4-6 months before giving birth?

  • I'm 12 weeks pregnant and just met with HR to find out about our Maternity Leave program only to learn that they only give us unpaid leave (you have to file for state disability to get your 55% salary during those weeks) In talking with other moms, I found they all came back early (because who can really afford to take a big pay cut when you have a new little one to tend to?)

    It never occurred to me to check because kids weren't on the radar when I applied for the job, but I'm totally disheartened that my company that "prides itself" on caring about its people doesn't have something better in place. Has anyone gone to HR to see about improving their policies? I know as a whole our organization had a 12 year tenure when I started and a pretty high average age, so it may have not been on their radar, but I'm shocked that they aren't more progressive. Any advice??

  • Good morning!
    I am seriously stressing about tell my work I am pregnant. Right now I am 9 weeks and 3 days. I work in a very competitive industry (recruiting) just got promoted to Assistant Manager this year and the bosses are mostly men. Its a small business so you would think its family friendly but its not so much. I take on a huge work load and I know it will be upsetting to them (As happy as I am) I know there is nothing they can do legally but I am still scared. I am 38 years old, this is my first, have been at this small company for 8 years. Hard worker for sure so this will be unexpected. I know they do not have maternity leave here so we follow what the state offers. We get short term disability in New Jersey ( 4 weeks before, 6 after) and then I think we can take 6 weeks of FMLA. Now I know once I tell them they do ask what my plan is. I honestly have no idea what my plan is!! Do I need the 4 weeks before? After how long!

    Also, I am going on a preplanned vacation April 1-10, do I tell them when I get back or before I leave?

    Thank you in advance for ANY help, advice, I am quite stressed out!

Find Out

What are women saying about your company?

Click Here

Share This

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Share with Friends
  • Share Anonymously

The Ideal Parental Leave Policy

The Ideal Parental Leave Policy

People often ask us what the ideal parental leave policy looks like. Last week, Etsy announced a parental leave policy for employees that a Huffingt...

People often ask us what the ideal parental leave policy looks like.

Last week, Etsy announced a parental leave policy for employees that a Huffington Post headline described as “basically perfect.” Starting in April, the company will offer employees around the world who have biological or adoptive children 26 paid weeks of parental leave regardless of the parent’s gender and who — if anyone — is the “primary caregiver.” Etsy is right to be proud of it’s new policy and have even helpfully explained their thinking as more than the right thing to do, providing a series of business justifications for their actions.

What do we think? We accept that the ideal world may involve no assumptions about gender roles and care-taking, and involves equal parental involvement of the raising of children. And of course we applaud employers like Etsy and Facebook who offer parental leave policies that treat people equally whether they are men or women, straight, gay, hourly, international or domestic employees.

That said, we would hate for the “perfect” policy to become the enemy of earnest efforts to make progress. There are so many employers outside Silicon Valley (and even within the technology sector) that for one reason or another are unlikely to adopt policies such as those in place at Etsy, Google or Adobe. Millions of employees out there who are about to become parents, or just interested in becoming parents one day in the future would be happy to simply see their companies improve their offerings.

For some that may mean offering short-term disability where there is currently no policy at all except FMLA. For others it may mean moving away from short-term disability insurance offerings to an actual paid maternity leave policy. For those with maternity leave policies already in place, that may mean increasing the number of paid weeks, implementing a paternity leave offering, or re-writing the maternity leave policy to be gender-neutral. In short, we applaud all progress and efforts to make progress.

Headline-generating policies are great for creating a “race to the top” when it comes to benefits, but we would hate for those extremely generous benefits to be dismissed by employers as gilded perks for “other people”, or inapplicable to them. To that end, we have found some sample policies that may be helpful to companies who either have no policies in place, or who are looking to understand their options:

Sample FMLA Policy

Sample Short-Term Disability Policy

Sample Template for Paid Maternity Leave Policy (for Mothers)

Sample Gender-Neutral Parental Leave Policy

For a small fee, the Society for Human Resource Management and legal services sites such as Nolo also provide resources for employers looking for templates and sample documents.

Of course, policies are different than what happens in practice. At companies such as Facebook where paternity leave is a fully paid 4 months for fathers, for example, the average parental leave taken by men averages 2 months whereas the majority of women at Facebook take the full four months of maternity leave. Some of this is due to cultural norms and the stigma men may face if they are seen as prioritizing their family and personal lives over their jobs and careers. In the UK, for example, we’ve just seen the one year anniversary of a law that allows both parents to share up to one year of joint parental leave. During the first 6 months after the law was passed, less than 2% of eligible fathers have taken any time off.

In short, policies are just the beginning. Employer culture still matters even when you have the “perfect” policy.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women. 
Join us by reviewing your employer!

 
thumbnail 1 summary