While it might seem like a logical concept to most people, maternity and paternity leave varies dramatically across companies, and the laws in different countries are far from consistent. If you’re thinking of taking some time yourself or considering the policy you have as an employer, then you will want to know what the benefits of parental leave are.
Parental leave allows new parents to bond with their children and establish consistent routines, and a relatively long period is recommended by experts for the health and well-being of the child and the parent. For employers, parental leave improves productivity, loyalty, and retention, and is an attractive advantage to draw in high-value employees.
Read ahead to find out more about the benefits that taking parental leave has for parents and children, and how a generous policy can benefit employers as well.
Why Should Parents Be Able To Take Parental Leave?
To understand how parental leave can benefit you and those who work for you, we should first talk about what it can actually do for parents and their children.
In a highly competitive labor market, many new parents feel that they are forced to decide between getting back to the office as soon as possible or spending more time with their new family. This is particularly true for fathers, who are rarely offered any options at all in the United States.
According to research, however, leave is incredibly important for the well-being of both the parent and the child. In fact, many experts recommend that new parents should be able to take up to 52 weeks between them, in order for the family to be as happy and healthy as possible.
Studies have found that:
- Paid maternity leads to better health outcomes for the mother and the child, physically as well as mentally.
- Paid maternity leave reduces the rate of intimate partner violence.
- Paid parental leave of any kind decreases the rate of infant mortality.
- Paid parental leave reduces the number of abuse cases in children that are 2 years or younger.
In some of those studies, it was found that mothers who did not have the option to take paid leave were 51% more likely to be re-hospitalized after birth, and their children were 47% more likely to be re-hospitalized as well.
How Much Parental Leave Do Most Companies Offer?
Despite the significant impact that paid maternity leave has on mothers and their children, it is not a legal requirement in the United States. Not to mention the fact that there is no federal mandate for paternity leave of any kind.
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only requires employers of 50 people or more to offer 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.
Just 40% of companies offer paid maternity leave of any kind, and only 70% of women actually take the maternity leave that they are entitled to. On average, mothers only take 10 weeks off from work to spend with their newborn or newly adopted children, whether it’s paid or not.
For fathers, the situation is even less supportive. The average amount of time that is taken for paternity leave is just one week, with 76% of all new fathers being back at work less than seven days after their child has been born.
Why Should Companies Offer Parental Leave?
If you’re an employer, offering parental leave can seem like an expensive option, but it does come with a lot of benefits for the business – beyond the obvious advantages to your employees and their families.
1. Improve Loyalty and Retention
Perhaps the most important benefit to offering a generous parental leave policy is the fact that you are much more likely to keep hold of the employees that you already have, which is fundamentally good for your business.
It is well known that retention rates have been poor across many industries in recent years, with employees looking for better opportunities elsewhere. According to some statistics, around 45% of workers in the US are actively looking for a better job at another company, and 87% of HR experts consider retention to be one of their top priorities.
2. Increase Productivity
You may be concerned about losing money while your workers are on leave, but you should also consider the value that those workers are able to bring to the table when they’re properly taken care of.
Prospective parents and new parents are more productive if they feel they are respected and looked after, and when they are not distracted by concerns about leaving their children at home.
The benefits that you offer will also make your employees want to keep their position, so they will work hard to prove their value if they want to take advantage of that option at some point in the future.
3. Attract New, High-Value Employees
The employer marketplace has never been more competitive. If you want to be able to draw in the best potential candidates for any future roles, then you need to impress.
The cost of parental leave could quite easily be outweighed by the value that a generous policy can give to your company overall, in terms of how attractive you look to prospective employees.
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Summary: Benefits Of Parental Leave
So, what are the benefits of parental leave? Fundamentally, time away from work to care for the children that are coming into your life is essential. It has been shown to greatly improve the health and well-being of both the parent and the child, not to mention the benefits that it offers for their general happiness.
A generous parental leave policy can be a great benefit for a company as well. It can help you to retain the workers that you have, increase productivity from your loyal employees, and attract the best candidates for future positions.
Who pays for paid parental leave?
In most countries, an employer pays for paid parental leave. In some countries, however, this payment is covered by the social services system.
What is the ideal parental leave?
Experts recommend that parents should be able to take 52 weeks of paid leave for the well-being and health of their children, or 6 months per parent.
What are the disadvantages of paid parental leave?
For employers, paid parental leave means paying a worker that is not active, in addition to finding a worker to cover their workload until they return.