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Shared Parental Leave: What’s Your Company’s Policy?
Available to employees in most countries around the world, shared parental leave programs provide employees with protected — and often extended — time away from their job positions without worrying about employers hiring someone to replace them. The term “parental” generally covers maternity, paternity and adoption leave to provide time for at least one parent to stay home with his or her baby during a standard period for parent and child.
Sometimes, these laws allow for employees to tend to ill family members under the same regulations. As your HR staff strives to comply with this important law, it is critical to gain a better understanding of maternity and paternity leave regulations that apply to your business.
Shared Parental Leave Regulations for Parents in the United States
Although a long-established law among 185 countries, the United States only adopted this progressive maternity leave policy and provision for maternity leave for men as of Dec. 1, 2014. Until that time, U.S. employees relied on the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as an unofficial paid parental leave scheme that provided up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for similar leave allowances — including sharing maternity leave to allow for the mother or father to stay with the child. However, brimming with restrictions, most employees will continue to welcome the relatively universally accepted 2014 parental leave program in FMLA’s place.
Adopting and introducing shared parental leave programs to U.S. employees gives you the opportunity to let your team know their value by ensuring that your HR department has access to all the necessary information to enact this plan in your office to benefit any future parents that you employ. According to HR.com, “These new regulations affect parents of children due to be born, or matched for adoption, on or after … April 5, 2015,” and offer maternity and paternity leave for parents after the birth or adoption of their new child.
What Do U.S. Companies Offer to Parents of Newborns?
While the United Kingdom and European countries offer generous leave benefits for parents of newborns, the United States has some work to do to catch up, in terms of paid family and medical leave policies. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “Only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer,” which leaves new parents in a quandary. They either need to use saved benefit time, such as vacation and sick time, or take their leave without pay. The U.S. is offering funding to spur states to develop healthy paid family and medical leave programs that will benefit parents of newborns.
Are there advantages to a policy that offers a longer leave for both mother and father?
In October 2015, CNN reported that a longer paid parental leave scheme in the United States benefits everyone. Mothers or fathers, or same-sex partners, who take advantage of maternity leave for men, can enjoy bonding time with their new arrival — by birth or adoption — with peace of mind. The relatively new leave act has a healthy impact on the parent and infant. The article notes that parents experience lower instances of infant mortality and are better able to take their newborn for regular wellness visits to ensure healthy development, which lets parents relax, knowing that their baby is doing well.
Can time off differ between male and female employees?
Under the shared parental leave program, parents can split their shared time away from work, according to their needs, as well as for the needs of the baby. Perhaps a mother wants to stay home with the baby the first 42 weeks. The father can then finish the baby’s first year with the final 10 weeks to allow the mother to return to her job.
The APS Experience
Wikipedia - Parental Leave
Inside Council - Parental Leave Laws in the US and Abroad
HR.com - Shared Parental Leave: Are You Game to Deal with the New Legislation
GOV.UK - Shared Parental Leave and Pay Employer Guide: Overview
GOV.UK - Shared Parental Leave and Pay Employer Guide: Starting Shared Parental Leave
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