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Employee demand for paid leave is high. In fact, in SHRM’s 2022 Employee Benefits Survey, leave benefits tied with retirement planning and saving benefits in importance, only healthcare benefits ranked higher.
Paid family leave benefits have been rising over time, but there are hurdles to their full adoption. According to the 2022 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25% of all U.S. civilian workers had access to paid family leave, up from 11% in 2012. Meanwhile, men are less likely to take a paid leave when available. The Boston College Center for Work and Family study, Expanded Paid Parental Leave: Measuring the Impact of Leave on Work and Family found 62% of men will take the full leave available to them vs. 93% of women. Another telling statistic from the study shows men are less likely than women to feel extremely supported when taking a leave, especially by senior management. This speaks to how critical it is for companies to show from the top down that paid parental leave is encouraged for all parents, no matter their gender.
Unpaid leave through The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is available to 56% of employees surveyed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2018. The same survey revealed that two-thirds of employees receiving partial or no pay while on leave reported it was difficult for them to make ends meet.
There is more movement at the state level to go beyond FMLA and require employers to provide paid leave. Numerous states and the District of Columbia have mandated some sort of paid family leave with more states adopting laws that are not yet in effect. However, each state has its own requirements and complexities, making it tricky for multi-state employers to give all of their employees equal access to paid leave, particularly in the absence of a federal mandate to provide it. The recent Build Back Better legislation included a federal paid leave mandate; however, it was ultimately stripped out of the final version in an effort to get the bill passed.
As your organization explores leave policies or family building benefits, it’s important to consider those around policies for parental leave. The following three questions can be used as a starting point:
Parental leave is essential for establishing healthy family building bonds. For more insight into this complicated topic, contact us today. From our latest white paper on family building benefits and policies to comprehensive compliance support, we’re here to help you see the way forward.
With more than 7,000 clients managed in our National Employee Benefits Practice, Risk Strategies delivers the high-quality, cost-effective, and compliant benefits programs and solutions employers need and employees value. Visit risk-strategies.com for the latest observations in employee benefits.