Paternal leave, sometimes referred to as family leave, is a popular employee benefit offered by businesses across the U.S. New fathers entitled to paternity leave have the opportunity to stay home from work to spend time and bond with their newborn or newly adopted child. The length of paternity leave can range from several weeks to months and may be paid or unpaid.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 93 percent of fathers and 72 percent of mothers make up the U.S. workforce. Offering employees sufficient paternal leave benefits can help attract talent and retain employees. Of course, employers should carefully consider how many weeks of paternity leave are sufficient. Learn more about paternity leave and how this competitive benefit should be structured.
Family And Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Federal legislation allows new parents to receive some job-protected time off. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees unpaid, job-protected leave to both parents to care for a newborn, a newly-adopted child or a family member that has become ill with a serious health condition.
Under the FMLA, parents are allowed up to 12 weeks of leave; however, there are stipulations to this law. The FMLA only covers employees that work for a company with at least 50 employees and have worked for the company for at least one year. The employee also must have clocked in a minimum of 25 hours per week before their leave.
Many parents fail to use this 12-week leave period as they cannot afford to go without pay. Some employers choose to offer paid leave to care for a child, parent or family member with a serious illness. It is at the discretion of the employer to establish if family leave is with pay and for how many weeks.
Elements Of A Paid Parental Leave Policy
When an organization chooses to offer paid paternity leave as part of its employee benefits package, a policy must be developed that outlines the stipulations or regulations of the benefit. Most paid paternity leave policies have eligibility details including:
- If the policy is available to part-time and/or full-time employees
- If an employee must work for the organization for a certain amount of time before becoming eligible for benefits
- If the employee will be compensated 100 percent of their weekly pay or receive a percentage of their weekly pay while on leave
- If paid parental leave must be taken consecutively or if the leave can be broken up over the course of a calendar year
- How much notice an employee must provide the organization before going on paid paternity leave
- If an employee is eligible to take more than one stint of paid paternity leave in a single calendar year
- How many weeks or months of paid paternity leave will be offered to employees
How Many Weeks Of Paternity Leave Is Enough?
The first 12 weeks of a baby’s life is the most critical time for parents to bond with their newborns, according to What to Expect. Longer paternity leave can result in better outcomes for families, including greater parental satisfaction, improved bonding and enhanced engagement. However, for fathers who are the primary financial providers in the family, taking unpaid time off from work is not always an affordable option.
Many organizations are starting to recognize the importance of offering paid paternity leave and have developed policies that provide new parents with a certain number of days of paid paternity or family leave per calendar year.
When structuring a paternity leave policy, consider factors other than the cost of leave. Think about how much it would cost to replace an employee who may decide to quit if not provided with paid leave. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
, the average cost to replace an employee is six to nine months of the employee’s salary.
According to the Pew Research Center, approximately seven-in-ten fathers report having taken less than two weeks off from work following the birth or adoption of a child. Today, many organizations have redefined paternity leave by offering bigger and better benefits. For example, Netflix recently gained attention after announcing that they offer both new mothers and fathers a full year of paid time off.
Benefits Of Offering Paid Paternity Leave
Offering paid paternity leave can have countless benefits for both employers and employees. Some of these benefits include:
1. Increase Employee Retention
Paid paternity leave encourages fathers to return to work after spending time at home with pay. Organizations that offer this highly sought-after benefit can prevent a high turnover rate and avoid the excessive costs of replacing an employee who leaves due to a lack of benefits.
2. Attract New Talent
Job candidates often find organizations that offer paid parental leave, more alluring. In a 2014 study published by the U.S. Department of Labor, nine out of ten working fathers said that paid parental leave would be an important benefit to have when looking for a new job.
3. Enhance Worker Productivity
Employees that are offered paid parental leave often have a greater sense of job satisfaction and job security. Job satisfaction has been directly linked with increased productivity and morale in the workplace. Paid parental leave provides workers with peace of mind that their employer will support them when they encounter life changes.
4. Promote Greater Well-Being
Many working parents are hesitant to return to work after just a short amount of time home with their baby. Allowing new parents time to bond with their child without concerns about finances can improve the mental health and well-being of both parents and children.
Speak With A Premier Benefits Consultant
Fathers are often conflicted about meeting the strict demands of family and work. Offering paid paternity leave provides new dads with an opportunity to play a direct role in their child’s first weeks or months of life when development moves at a rapid rate. For more information about offering paid paternity leave, contact the experienced employee benefits consultants at the Business Benefits Group.