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The Ultimate Guide to Providing Parental Leave to Your Employees
December 25, 2018
Parental-Leave

The Ultimate Guide to Providing Parental Leave to Your Employees

An average of 273,000 women and 22,000 men take parental leave every month. As a small business owner with employees, you’ll likely have staff members that need to take family leave, so you must have policies in place to support this. Parental leave policies vary in length and payment, but the goal is to create a policy that’s beneficial to you and your staff.

In this post, we’ll list five tips for providing parental leave to your employees, so you can create a policy that’s legally compliant and attractive to your employees who are parents.

5 Tips for Offering Parental Leave

1. Comply with State and Federal Regulations

According to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), private sector companies with more than 50 employees within 75 miles of your worksite are required to offer new parents 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, adopted, or foster child. The employee must have worked for your company for 12 months to be eligible. This is a federal law and doesn’t matter which state your company resides in; however, depending on the state you may be subject to additional regulations.

Each state has their own laws for providing leave, so before you make any decisions check to ensure you’re complying with state regulations. Currently, California, Rhode Island, and New Jersey require employers to provide paid leave for their staff, but there are various stipulations for each state, and new states are adopting this law.

2. Use It As a Competitive Advantage

When considering an employer, many candidates look for a strong parental leave policy. Due to this, you should look at your leave policy as a recruiting tool. As of December 2017, only 15 percent of private industry workers received paid parental leave, but the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that providing paid family leave can help small business attract and retain hard-to-fill trade jobs and hourly positions, like fitness instructors, construction assistants, and carpet installers.

3. Offer Both Maternity and Paternity Leave

Many companies offer maternity leave, but they don’t always offer paternity leave According to Pew Research, the U.S. is the only developed country that doesn’t mandate paid paternity leave. By providing leave for men and women, you create equality within the workplace and take the burden off mothers. In fact, research found that when men take paternity leave, women can return to work sooner.

It’s important to note that you can provide different lengths of time off for men and women. Typically, new mothers receive more time off than fathers.

4. Provide Flexibility

As a small business owner, it may be difficult to offer fully paid maternity or paternity leave but providing flexibility can help make your leave policy more attractive. Allowing for options such as flex time, the ability to work from home, and the option to spread out the leave during the child’s first year are huge benefits for new parents. For instance, a woman may want to take six weeks off, then come back to work for a month while her husband takes his parental leave, and then take her final six weeks.

5. Ensure a Smooth Transition Back to Work

Many women feel pressure when transitioning back to work after they take leave so providing a transition program can allow them to ease their way back into the job. For instance, you can allow the new parent to work 80 percent of their scheduled hours for the first six months back and still receive their regular salary or allow them to bring the baby to work for a short time. It’s also helpful for new mothers to have a lactation room at your office, so that is something that you should consider.

Conclusion: Create a Policy That Works for Your Company

It’s important to cater your policy to your employees and their specific needs. For instance, if most of your employees are part-time or seasonal, they may value flexible scheduling, whereas if most of your employees are men, it’s in your best interest to create a strong paternity leave policy. Finally, no matter what policies you put in place, ensure that you’re transparent about your parental leave program and available to answer any questions your employees have.

Does your business have an excellent parental leave program? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Fora Financial

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Fora Financial is a working capital provider to small business owners nationwide. In addition, the Fora Financial team provides educational information to the small business community through their blog, which covers topics such as business financing, marketing, technology, and much more. If you’d like to see a topic covered on the Fora Financial blog, or want to submit a guest post, please email us at [email protected].
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