In August of this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg again made headlines, announcing his plans to take 2 months of paternity leave when he and his wife welcome their second daughter. This is not the first time that the tech leader has made headlines for his plans to stay home and assist with his newborn child. In November of 2015, when the couple’s first child was born, Zuckerberg announced his plans to take two months off, while also confirming Facebook’s paid parental leave policy of 4 months for all global employees.
Facebook is one of the leaders in offering extended paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, but it’s not alone. A growing number of companies offer paid parental leave, including paternity leave. According to research published in 2017 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 30% of companies surveyed currently offer paid parental leave, and 24% offer paid paternity leave – a number that has doubled in just three years.
Although the number of U.S. companies offering paid parental leave to both parents is growing, a Pew Research bulletin released in September 2016 ranked the United States at the bottom of a 41-nation list of countries requiring paid leave for new parents. While most of the required paid leave in these 41 countries is allocated to new mothers, 31 of the 41 countries requiring paid parental leave benefits offer paid benefits to new fathers – averaging two weeks or less. It’s important to note that not all of the 41 countries listed in the Pew Research bulletin require employers to pay for time away – as many have a national funding system to support parents during their leave.
It’s important to keep in mind that paid parental leave differs from leave required under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as FMLA simply protects an employee’s job for up to 12 weeks, but doesn’t require that the employee is paid while on leave. However, while the U.S. is the only country without mandated paid leave for new parents, three states – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – already mandate paid parental leave, and New York and Washington will soon join them.
With 82% of Americans in favor of paid maternity leave and 69% in favor of paid paternity leave, it just might be time to revisit your paid time off policies. As you continue to compete for or retain top talent, you need to continue to review and evaluate how your total benefits package complements or inhibits these efforts. For organizations competing for talent that may be exposed to some of the tech giants, such as Facebook, what might your paid leave programs look like for those looking to start or grow their families? Beyond paid family leave, what other programs might your organization consider offering, such as the ability for new parents to work remotely following family leave, allowing them to gradually return to work while still caring for their newborn? Finally, does your culture support your policies? Just because someone has the ability to take two or four months off, consider whether employees are comfortable actually taking the time?
While there may not be a “right” answer, organizations should continuously review their policies and programs to ensure that both their culture, recruitment and retention efforts support the organization’s comprehensive mission and goals.
Americans Widely Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, but Differ Over Specific Policies, Pew Research Center, March 23, 2017. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2017/03/23/americans-widely-support-paid-family-and-medical-leave-but-differ-over-specific-policies/
Among 41 nations, U.S. is the outlier when it comes to paid parental leave, Pew Research Center, September 26, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/09/26/u-s-lacks-mandated-paid-parental-leave/.
Society of Human Resources Management. (2017). 2017 Employee Benefits: Remaining Competitive in a
Challenging Talent Marketplace.