In the United States, it’s estimated just 16% of private employees have access to any type of paid maternity leave.
There is no federal program for paid parental leave in the US. For American companies with over 50 employees, all they are mandated to offer at the federal level is 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave and a guarantee that the person’s job will still be there when they return.
Nine states – including California, New Jersey and Oregon – have their own paid parental leave program, but they’re limited.
With pretty much every single industrialized nation offering some semblance of paid parental leave, the US is lagging behind on this issue. There had been talks of including 12 weeks of paid family leave in the most recent federal budget talks, but those were recently dashed during negotiations.
Interestingly, 73% of Americans support some sort of federally-mandated paid family leave policy, according to a recent CBS poll.
Knowing the extreme rarity of paid parental leave in the US, staffers should work with employer clients and leverage this opportunity to attract and retain the best talent.
Imagine a job candidate is deciding between two very similar job offers – same title, same salary, same basic benefits like health insurance and a 401(k).
But one of the job offers is coming from a company that is also offering a paid parental leave benefit that includes 12 weeks of fully-paid time off.
Which one would they be more likely to accept?
Paid parental leave is so rare that any employer offering it immediately becomes a unique and attractive employee destination.
If you have clients that are looking to hire elite working talent, try talking to them about the feasibility of offering a paid parental leave benefit. It might be possible the employer doesn’t want to take on that type of financial obligation, but there are other options if that is the case.
Viable Alternative: Disability Insurance
Other than offering a paid parental leave benefit, your employer clients could also look into offering a group disability insurance policy to its employees.
With a group disability insurance plan, all members of an organization that are under the plan will receive disability insurance coverage. Disability insurance will replace a portion of a consumer’s income should something like a pregnancy or birth of a child keep them from working for a period of time.
Under a group plan, coverage is usually not as extensive as individual plans but costs are usually very low for the individual because most of the bill is picked up by employers.
If an employer client can’t offer paid parental leave, a group disability insurance is a great alternative that would be especially helpful for mothers. Pregnancy is one of the most common reasons to take out disability insurance.
In fact, a study from Breeze found 65% of mothers recently on unpaid maternity leave found adequate financial coverage through a disability insurance policy during their time off.
So, employer clients looking for the best talent could also consider offering some sort of group disability insurance benefit, which is still a considerable advantage over not offering any type of paid parental leave at all.
Staffers could really see a huge difference in their recruiting prospects if they are able to work with employers that truly separate themselves from the competition by offering paid parental leave or group disability insurance.