Parental Leave Policy: What every employer needs to know.

Trish Makiwa / Posted On: 24 June 2022 / Updated On: 5 October 2022 / Human Resources General / 50

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Parental Leave Policy: What every employer needs to know.



Many new parents require time to acclimate and transition to a new way of life with their children. Working parents can receive the appropriate amount of time to bond with and care for their children before returning to work with the help of their employers. Employers and employees may create trust by implementing an effective parental leave policy, which leads to increased employee retention, engagement, and productivity. Discover what a paid parental leave policy is, how to draft one, and the best parental leave policy practices to follow in the sections below.

 

Many post-industrial nations have established policies to make work and family life more compatible. However, little research has been done on how organizational circumstances affect how well employees use policies. This article fills this gap by examining the organizational factors linked to increased usage of parental leave policies at work.

 

In post-industrial societies, parental leave programs have spread widely. Parental leave can last from a few weeks to a few years (Hegewisch & Gornick, 2011; Sleebos, 2003; The'venon, 2011). The relationship between leave policies and aggregate-level outcomes for women like labour force participation, wages, and fertility has received considerable attention in the literature (Buttner & Lutz, 1990; Gauthier, 2007; Jaumotte, 2003; Mandel & Semyonov, 2005; Neyer & Andersson, 2008; Ruhm, 1998; Sleebos, 2003).

 

There was a time when there was no such thing as parental leave, simply maternity leave, which was only available to women who had recently given birth and only enabled them to take roughly six weeks off. Parental leave has evolved into a broader benefit that includes fathers, same-sex partners, other caregivers, and parents who have just adopted or begun fostering children.

 

As employees, businesses, and governments reinvent the concept of a fulfilling, meaningful family leave, the topic of parental leave is increasingly in the news. Of all, it's one thing for a large firm to make big adjustments to its parental leave policy; it's quite another for a small business, which, no matter how much it values a growing family's time, may not be able to afford to do so.

 


What is the definition of a parental leave policy?

Employers may provide new parents with a parental leave policy that allows them to take paid or unpaid time off to care for their children. Parental leave policies enable parents to bond with their newborns while also assisting them in adjusting to their new lifestyle, including less sleep and more stressful schedules. Employers frequently provide parental leave to mothers and fathers, though policies are occasionally divided into maternity and paternity leave plans. Depending on the organization and the length of paid leave, it can range from two weeks to four months.

 

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which offers eligible employees (such as new parents) up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected leave, is the sole national regulation that handles parental leave. The FMLA covers businesses with more than 50 workers and employees who have worked for the company for at least 12 months.

 

Paid parental leave plans often cover moms and their partners who have recently given birth. Still, they may also include adoption leave for parents who have recently adopted a child and require time to adjust to their new family. These policies differ from one company to the next, depending on the company's policies.

 

Depending on the circumstances, the mother or father may be designated as the "primary caregiver" and be entitled to greater time off. Furthermore, "primary carers" (i.e., those who have primary responsibility for a child's care after birth) are frequently given more time off than "secondary caregivers." Other parental leave policies may allow additional time off for parents who have older children to look after. If a child is ill or has a doctor's appointment, corporate policy may let them to take parental leave to care for the child.

 

Best practices for parental leave policies

To assist you in deciding on the appropriate parental leave policy for your firm, use the best practices listed below:

  • Investigate how other companies across the world handle parental leave.

Keep track of the parental leave companies in the nations where your company does business or hires overseas personnel. Try to match your company's parental leave policy to your employees' home nation.

  • Consider both parents' requirements.

Consider both parents when developing your parental leave policy, and attempt to give them equivalent perks. Consider providing parental leave to moms and dads who are generally involved in caring for their children (and all of the late nights and early mornings that entails).

  • Explain parental leave policy to employees and be prepared to answer queries.

Hold a meeting with your employees to review the regulations of your parental leave policy after you've written or updated it. Prepare for any queries that employees may have by detailing each section. When answering questions and listening to employee concerns, be patient.

Hold a meeting with your employees to review the regulations of your parental leave policy after you've written or updated it. Prepare for any queries that employees may have by detailing each section. When answering questions and listening to employee concerns, be patient.

Why should a Parental Leave Policy be implemented?

As more working parents strive to integrate their work and care obligations better, employers realize the value of assisting their employees in juggling the two. It is critical to create an inclusive Parental Leave Policy that supports all family kinds and caring scenarios within a family, not only to make the transition smoother for employees but also to enable diversity and inclusion and reduce gender inequity in the workplace.

 

Introducing a Parental Leave Policy will aid your employees in their transition before, during, and after their leave while also recognizing their work and caring obligations and improving their ability to return to work.

 

What are the advantages?

A best-practice inclusive Parental Leave Policy in your organization that is actively promoted and available to all is undeniably beneficial to your company and your employees. The following are some of the advantages:

  • Employee retention and engagement have improved.
  • Enhanced ability to attract talent; improved outcomes in terms of inclusiveness and equality
  • Enhanced employee wellbeing outcomes Enhanced reputational value

 

What should your parental leave cover?

  • An introductory statement is a fantastic method to introduce your policy and allows you to express your organization's inclusive stance on gender and all types of families. A strong introduction statement can show your staff that you fully support your parental leave policy and are willing to 'walk the walk' when it comes to putting it in place.
  • A clearly defined scope will ensure your employees' eligibility and the length of leave available to them. Is the policy just accessible to permanent employees, for example? Is leave accessible from the first day of employment or after 12 months of service, post-probation?
  • Consider your financial situation. Because no two companies are the same, not all parental leave policies will be the same, but that doesn't mean you can't provide some support to your staff. Consider what best practices exist in other organizations and what your company could use based on its size and personnel requirements. For leading examples of PL policies from several companies and industries, see Parents At Work Case Studies.
  • Your policy will be easier to read and understand if you use clear terminology. Keep it simple, without any bias or jargon. Review and include relevant terminology used to define 'parental leave' — phrases like 'primary carer' and' secondary carer' can restrict and perpetuate gender stereotypes.
  • Include a summary of your company's paid and unpaid parental leave policies and a reference to the government's parental leave policies. Will you, for example, pay superannuation on paid but not unpaid leave? Will your employees be able to get government help at the same time as they get help from your company? Paying Superannuation on paid and unpaid leave is the best practice, allowing employees to take their employer-funded paid parental leave flexibly (rather than in a block). This encourages parents to access it when and how they need it.
  • If you include a 'Keeping in Touch' section, your employees will feel supported while on leave. Employees who stay linked to their work throughout the holidays are more productive.
  • With a 'How to Apply' section, ensure you offer clear instructions on how staff should apply for leave. Applying for parental leave can be difficult for some employees, especially if the procedure is complicated or they are discouraged from doing so. Your staff will know they are supported if the process is simple. This section may also include information about leave extensions and adjustments.
  • While employees are on leave, include a statement about your views on career advancement and compensation review. Many employees are concerned that their careers will be stalled while they are away, so whatever assurance you can provide will help your employees enjoy their time at home and, ultimately, return to their jobs following their vacation.
  • It's also crucial to include a section on what they'll need and how they'll be supported when they return to work. Your employee must understand that their role will be available for them when they return and your expectations for their return-to-work transition. Consider how much notice they must give before returning, any flexible work arrangement choices that may be available, the process for communicating with their manager, and what return-to-work training help is available, among other things.
  • Finally, shout it from the rooftops about your parental leave policy, both internally and internationally. Employees desire to work for companies that are concerned about their work-life balance. Your parental leave policy is important to your company's value proposition and commitment to fostering a diverse, equal, and inclusive workplace

 

Paid leave encompasses a number of perks, including allowing employees to take a leave of absence from work for permitted reasons. But what are the implications of these policies for workers and small businesses? Do they help employees to be happier and more productive? Are they affordable, or do they bloat entrepreneurs' budgets to unmanageable proportions?

 

How to Make Parental Leave Policies That Work

Learn how to develop a good parental leave policy by following the steps below:

  1. Find out what kind of parental leave staff require.

Obtain feedback from your staff on what they require from parental leave. Do anonymous surveys. Alternatively, meet with them one-on-one to get a sense of what would be most beneficial to them. This will assist you in determining which benefits are necessary to offer and which ones your employees may not desire or require.

 

  1. Assess your financial situation.

Examine your budget before drafting a parental leave policy to see what policies your organization can afford and support. Make a list of your company's parental leave goals and needs, and try to create a plan around them. Examine other companies' parental leave policies to see if there are any you may utilize as a model for your own. Adapt these regulations to your budget, goals, and personnel requirements.

 

  1. Review the laws in your state.

Learn your state's rules and regulations before drafting a parental leave policy to guarantee you comply. You can start your policy by listing the benefits your state requires and then design the rest of the policy from there. This provides you with a starting point.

 

  1. Think about the competition.

When drafting a parental leave policy, look at what other firms of similar size are doing because that's who you'll be up against in attracting and retaining great people. Do others, for example, provide full or partial compensation while on leave? Is the same amount of leave given to secondary caregivers as it is to primary caregivers? Do they assist parents who are returning to a full-time schedule? By studying the competition, you can acquire ideas for not just matching but also exceeding the competitor's offers and building industry-leading programs that set you apart in the eyes of employees and job applicants.

 

  1. Calculate the figures.

What is the true cost of your parental leave policy? If you wish to offer paid leave, think about how much you'll be spending on salary and benefits while your employees are away, as well as the expense of hiring temporary workers to cover them while they're gone. You should, however, assess the worth of your staff. Would you be willing to forego years of valuable contributions from specific employees in order to cover a few months of parental leave? How much time, money, and effort would it take to hire and train a new employee to accomplish their job?

 

When it comes to parental leave, how much warning should an employee give?

Include a section in your parental leave policy's rules and regulations about employees giving you notice before requesting parental leave. Employers should often give notice about 10 weeks before their parental leave begins, however, this varies from company to company. This allows your staff to notify you if they will be absent for an extended period, giving you adequate time to adjust and devise a transition plan.

 

One of the most critical methods to keep your employees pleased is to have a thoughtful parental leave policy. Get to work on a policy that is compliant, true to you, and beneficial to your team. Then watch as everyone becomes much more at ease (and ecstatic!) when their little ones make their grand entrances into the world.

 

A parental leave policy is beneficial to your small business beyond the legal obligations. You will save time and money by not having to recruit, hire, and train a new employee. Employee morale is one of the most obvious and crucial benefits. Employees who aren't afraid of losing their jobs because they have a child are more likely to return to work once their leave is over.

 

This is also an excellent opportunity to cross-train personnel and give them opportunities to advance within the organization. If you have entry-level employees ready to advance, now is the time to give them greater responsibilities and broaden their skill set. It also prepares you to have staff that has a deeper grasp of your business and can fill in for you if someone else is sick, on vacation, or called to jury duty while you're on maternity leave.

 

Last but not least, national parental leave laws are increasingly being established as a policy approach to raising fertility rates. However, we may develop a work environment that supports families if we implement family-related policies in an authentic manner.

 

 

This article was written by Trish Makiwa, a consultant at the Industrial Psychology Consultants. She can be contacted at [email protected]

 


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