My recollection of requesting parental leave was nothing short of a nightmare. There were lots of forms and paperwork to go through–not to mention the amount of planning, preparing, budgeting and coordinating efforts for the arrival of a newborn. Plus it is a stressful situation and conversation to have when you approach the company’s Human Resources (HR) department or manager in charge to request parental leave.
Depending on your professional track record, the company you work for and length of time you are requesting, the level of apprehension about requesting a leave of absence naturally skyrockets.
Parental leave is one of the crucial and pivotal moments for practically new or existing parents to deal with. Why? There are layers and layers of complications when it comes to trying to balance family and work life.
When it comes to accommodating paid leave there are a couple of harsh realities hitting the workforce at the present time. According to the Department of Labor (DOL) just 12 percent of United States (U.S) private sector workers have access to paid family leave through the company they are employed.
Evidently taking time off from work means loss of income. What ends up happening is too many workers cannot afford to be on parental leave and cut it short. So the pressures not only mount at work to make up for lost time, but also disrupts your time with family, which becomes a whole other issue.
Benefits and advantages of paid leave
Once an employee has proven his place and worthiness within a company, independent of size, they should be entitled to parental paid leave. This is not a matter of economics or number of hours he or she has accrued. It is about the well-being of parents and maximizing their living conditions.
This can be done in a number of ways. When we reserve enough resources for a parental leave request through a company you will retain your best and most talented in the company, while at same time eliminate the risk of turnover. According to a CIO Magazine analysis, when companies adopt a parental leave policy the work options for parents lead to higher employee engagement and retention.
In both cases, paid paternity and maternity leave brings with it numerous and favorable payoffs. Below is a list of the positive effects of paid leave asserted by the DOL:
- Maternity leave overall improves the child´s health outcomes and increased birthweight.
- Leave decreases premature birth and decreased infant mortality.
- Paid leave encourages men to take paternity leave and serve as good caregivers.
- Paid maternity leave increases work retention and reduces retention.
- Paid paternity leave encourages men to be better caregivers.
It is essential for the current employee workforce to have the conditions and financial support for parental or maternal leave. This will not only help parents, but companies will reduce expenses for training and hiring new staff. Currently states like Massachusetts, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut and various cities have passed legislation for paid family and medical leave.
Parental paid benefits around the globe
Parental employment benefits outside of the U.S is a different narrative altogether. A visual graphic on Visual.ly paints a picture of the top countries for maternity and paternity leave, including the nations with the least amount of days to take leave.
So who are the countries with the top rank for parental (maternity) leave? They are as follows, including the maximum length of leave (days):
- Croatia (406 days)
- Albania (365 days)
- Australia (365 days)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina (365 days)
- Montenegro (365 days)
- Serbia (365 days)
- UK (365 days)
- Norway (322 days)
On the other hand, here are the 10 worst countries when it comes to maternity leave:
- United States (84 days)
- Lesotho (84 days)
- Swaziland (84 days)
- Nepal (84 days)
- Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (50 days)
- Qatar (50 days)
The paternity paid leave length for men is far less in comparison. For the top 10 countries for paternity leave you have Iceland (91 days), Norway (70 days), Spain (28), Finland (18 days), Slovenia (15 days), Azerbaijan (14 days) and others.
Momentum has shifted since legislation began promoting and advocating parental leave. Between 1994 and 2013 countries that provided at least 14 weeks of maternity leave increased from 38 to 51 percent. Up until last year, eight countries offer incentives to encourage new fathers to take parental leave.
Takeaways and conclusion
As the 21st century continues to be flooded with innovation and technological tools for the workplace, progress must be made primarily with regards to parental policies before anything else. Legislative action must introduce and approve the ability to really tackle the harsh reality and financial burdens of parental leave. Otherwise you are forcing people to improvise on their own without any sort of support during these important personal events. One natural consequence is this will lead to and perhaps discourage young professionals from starting families.
From coast to coast in the U.S things have begun to change. In a detailed news report by the New York Times corporations are shifting to more family-friendly benefits. For example, companies for Accenture and Microsoft would be implementing generous parental leave rules. The tech streaming giant, Netflix, recently instituted a full paid leave measure for new mothers and fathers for up to 365 days.
Still there is much work to be done. Drafting company policies tailored towards new parents will strengthen the families, balance work and family life, allow for a full recovery and better control of finances.
Featured photo credit: Winter Day 10 – Seeking balance/lisaclarke via flickr.com