Need paid leave to take care of your newborn or newly adopted child? Well, if you live in the U.S. or Papua New Guinea, you’re typically out of luck. This is because, according to a report from the International Labour Organization, the U.S. and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that provide statutory maternity leave but don’t guarantee paid leave or cash benefits for new mothers.
History of parental leave in the U.S.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) came on the scene in 1993 to provide eligible U.S. employees up to 12 weeks of protected leave for specified medical and family reasons, including after the birth or adoption of a child. While this leave protects workers from losing their job during their leave, it only applies to companies with more than 50 employees.
Additionally, even when an employer is covered, the only eligible employees are those who work at a location where the employer has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius and have been employed with the company for more than 12 months. Plus, there is no mandate that FMLA leave is paid. Disability insurance, for those who are fortunate enough to have it, can replace some income for a period of time.
Many state, county and city governments have taken matters into their own hands by enacting paid sick, maternity or family leave laws. Companies like Netflix have also opted to create their own standards for leave, instituting an unlimited leave policy for new moms and dads for the first year after birth or adoption.
Creating a leave policy
Most small and midsize business (SMB) owners don’t have the financial resources of companies like Netflix to create the type of leave policy that would make them an ultra-competitive employer. However, it is in the best interest of all businesses to stand out from the crowd when it comes to being on the cutting edge of family leave benefits.
First and foremost, as a business owner, you must be cognizant of local, state and federal laws that apply to your business, based on your size, your company location and where your employees work. Once you’ve established what you are mandated to do in regard to maternity or family leave, it is a good idea to look at what resources you have at your disposal to go beyond what is required to really create a leave package that attracts family-oriented employees. You’ll want to consult with your HR services provider, as well as members of your accounting and legal teams.
Whatever you decide, it’s a good idea to create a formal leave policy that reflects what you will be offering. As an employer, you have a unique opportunity to provide your employees with a benefit that is still all too rare in the U.S. This will not only help you attract a larger, more quality talent pool but will help the U.S. get caught up with our international competition.
This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice; and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.
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