Many employees with newborn children experience a transition in the lifestyle that requires time to adjust. While family and friends are available to provide support, employees need the assistance of their employers to get the right amount of time to bond and care for the newborn child before they can return to work.
Working parents often struggle with balancing work and childcare, so companies should have an effective parental leave policy. An effective parental leave policy can build trust between employers and employees and result in employee retention and engagement.
Below, we share a complete guide on parental leave policy and how you can write the best one for your organization.
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What is a parental leave policy?
A parental leave policy is a benefit that companies offer to employees who become new parents, allowing them paid or unpaid time off to take care of their child. With a newborn, there is a significant shift in the lifestyle of working parents due to a lack of sleep and hectic schedules.
Such a change requires time to get used to, which is why companies should have provisions for parental leave. Usually, parental leave is available for both mothers and fathers. However, there can be separate maternity leaves and paternity leave policies.
Depending on the provision of the company, and the state laws, parental leave can last for anywhere between two weeks and 4 months or even more. In India, the Maternity Benefit Act 1961 provides legal guidance to companies on creating a parental leave policy.
It mentions that organizations must give maximum support to women employees to ensure their well-being and the well-being of their newborn or adopted child. The parental leave policy should cover both pre-and postnatal care.
In the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) guarantees eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid, protected parental leave. FMLA applies to businesses with more than 50 employees, and workers employed for at least 12 months are eligible for parental leaves.
The paid parental leave policies usually cover mothers who recently gave birth and can also include their partners. However, some companies also have adoption leave for parents who recently adopted a child and need time to adjust.
Primary caregivers (the person directly responsible for the child’s care) are often offered more time off than secondary caregivers. Other parental leave policies can address additional leaves for parents who need time off to take care of children if they are sick.
How to create a parental leave policy
Now that you understand the parental leave policy, you should also know how to create a genuinely beneficial policy for your company.
You can begin by studying how companies globally handle parental leaves. If you work for an MNC, you must understand federal and local laws regarding leaves for working parents. Another important consideration is what benefits to offer to both parents.
Dad’s paternity leave policy may have fewer provisions than the maternity leave policy. Ultimately, you must create a comprehensive parental leave policy explaining each condition so that employees understand the policy better.
Here are the four most important aspects of creating a successful parental leave policy.
1. Ask employees what they expect from the parental leave policy
Before you start drafting the parental leave policy for your company, it is essential to involve employees. It would help if you gathered ideas and opinions from the workers regarding what they need from parental leave. For anonymity and honest feedback, you can create anonymous surveys to encourage employees to share their views.
You can also set up individual meetings with female workers to understand what policies would benefit them the most. Such an approach will help managers determine which benefits are crucial to be included in the parental leave policy and which provisions can be excluded.
2. Check what leaves your company can afford
While the law stipulates that parental leave for fathers and mothers can be as little as two weeks or up to 4 months and more, the company must evaluate its budget. Only some organizations can afford or support a large number of parental leaves.
Managers should list the company’s goals and needs for the parental leave policies and try to create a policy around these requirements while accounting for their budget. You can begin by reviewing the parental leave plans from other companies to get an idea of what policies to include.
Moving forward, you can tweak these policies and customize provisions to fit your budget, company goals, and employee needs.
3. Check your state and country rules
After understanding your employee’s expectations and your company’s budget, you should research the central and local laws and regulations regarding parental leave policy. Compliance is of extreme importance to avoid any legal hassles later on.
Firstly, you should start by listing the benefits required by your state or federal government and include other benefits and remaining sections of the parental leave policy later. Such a strategic approach is necessary to ensure your parental leave policy meets all the legal requirements.
For instance, if your company is in California, the local law requires employers to offer employees paid family leave (PFL). This benefit is provided for employees who have worked with their current employer for at least 12 months. As part of the policy, employers must pay 60% to 70% of the employee’s wages for up to 12 weeks during parental leave. However, this paid leave does not provide job protection like the FMLA.
4. Write your policy and ask for suggestions from employees
Once you have successfully gathered data from the above three steps, it’s time to put together employees of information, company budget details, and the law requirements to create an impeccable parental leave policy for your organization.
After successfully drafting the policy, you must seek feedback and suggestions for amendments from employees before making it live. Also, share the parental leave policy draft with the leadership team to know their thoughts and opinions. This step is necessary to understand better the sustainability of the policy you created and determine whether it will benefit the employees.
After you have gathered all the updates, evaluate each suggestion carefully and, if viable, incorporate it into the policy before officially implementing the newly created parental leave policy.
While no federal laws make it compulsory for companies to offer paid parental leave, some state requirements do. However, organizations are recommended to proactively provide provisions for paid and unpaid parental leave to eligible employees.
Having a comprehensive and employee family, parental leave policy not only plays a vital role in improved maternal health and better mental health for working parents but also reduces health insurance costs for the employers and improves their employer brand.
Truein is a complete employee time and attendance system that can help HR managers better manage leave policies. It allows managers to create and share company attendance and leave policies with employees in real-time. You can also make changes to the policies and notify all workers about these changes.
Truein is a hardware-less, cloud-based software solution that can be implemented for any industry. Schedule a demo today and see how it can automate attendance management, overtime calculation, leave management, and payroll integration.