Health Systems, Workforce Health | By | 07/19/18 | 3 Minute Read

Stay Competitive with Parental Leave Benefits

Move over, ping-pong table and work-from-home Fridays. The most sought-after company benefit for millennials seeking work-life balance may be a generous parental leave policy.

With U.S. unemployment rates at an 18-year-low, employers are looking at strategic ways to recruit young professionals and retain employees starting new families. If you haven’t updated your parental leave policy, now may be the time to up your game, as several high-profile employers, including Anheuser-Busch, Lowe’s, and Lyft, recently announced expansions of their benefits.

To ensure your leave policy is competitive, here are five things you need to know:

1. The 20 largest U.S. employers now provide paid parental leave. While the amount of time off for salaried workers varies from 6 weeks to 20 weeks (at IBM), each of the 20 largest American employers have added paid parental leave to their benefits. Some companies on the list, including Amazon and Starbucks, also offer paid parental leave to hourly employees, who represented 58 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2017.

2. Parental leave has economic benefits for your company. While the federal government doesn’t require companies to pay employees during the time they take off from work, the bottom-line benefits of providing paid leave are real. Parental leave benefits are lower cost than healthcare benefits, and can be more impactful. They can reduce the cost of employee turnover, which is estimated to average one-fifth of an employee’s annual salary. Workers without paid leave are more likely to leave their jobs, while paid leave encourages workers to stay in the labor force with the same employer.

3. Parental leave policies are growing and expanding. The parental leave portfolio at many companies now covers different types of family structures, parents, and caregivers. The benefits for all types of paid options–including maternity and paternity leave, adoption, foster child, and surrogacy leave—have all increased in the last two years, according to a survey from the Society of Human Resource Management.

The survey shows 35 percent of employers offer paid maternity leave, up from 26 percent two years ago. Today, 29 percent of companies provide paid paternity benefits, 28 percent offer adoption benefits, and 21 percent provide foster child benefits. Approximately 12 percent also have surrogacy benefits.

4. Paid parental leave results in healthier families. According to the National Partnership for Women and Families, paid leave for mothers and fathers can also decrease infant mortality and increase the likelihood that children receive medical care. The group also reports that it improves the odds of detecting developmental delays early on, when they can more easily be addressed by physicians. These factors can reduce health issues later, which in turn lowers medical costs.

5. Longer leave equals happier birth moms. Longer maternity leaves are associated with better mental health for the mother, while shorter leaves are associated with maternal depression and anxiety, according to research that looked at the effects of newborn family leave on children, parents, and business.

This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.

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