- May 29, 2018
Work/life balance is an elusive goal that employers and employees have been trying to reach for decades. While ‘balance’ may not be achievable all the time, employers can do more to support employees at their greatest point of need by offering enhanced benefits during more demanding times in their personal lives.
For example, an employee may need to care for a family member. According to the Pew Research Center, 27% of women have quit a job due to familial responsibilities. While some employers have explored expanding maternity leave and/or offering a designated paternity leave, more employers are taking a holistic approach to supporting employees through a paid family leave program.
Paid family leave typically refers to paid time off that an employee can use to care for a family member, and it typically extends to any caregiving situation that qualifies under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. It is a benefit that both new moms and dads can take advantage of, as well as employees with aging parents or spouses who require care. This type of program expands the benefit to a broader segment of the employee population.
In 2016, after receiving feedback from focus groups that we needed a family benefit that all employees could use, Gilbane developed its own Paid Family Leave benefit. Through this benefit, employees are eligible for four weeks of Paid Family Leave that can be used in a single block of time or intermittently.
While several states are enacting Paid Family Leave laws, including New York, California, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Minnesota, the concept is still an emerging trend for employers to offer this paid leave. According to the Mercer Parental Leave survey 2016, only 13 percent of employers in the United States offer four weeks of Paid Family Leave. There are numerous employee productivity and well being benefits that occur as a result of introducing Family Leave Benefit. Here are the top reasons to consider introducing a Paid Family Leave benefit:
1. Shows employees that you truly care about the health and well-being of them and their family members, and in turn, it engenders loyalty from your employees.
2. Encourages new parents to take the time they need after the birth of a child, which results in more rested (and less distracted) employees upon their return.
3. When considering their next employer, more prospective employees are looking for employers that promote work/life balance.
4. Reduces the stigma of taking paternity leave, which helps to breaks down gender barriers.
After two years and several hundred employees taking advantage of this great benefit, Gilbane’s expanded family leave policy is having a huge impact on employees. Here are just a few of those stories:
Mike Coleman | Project Manager currently on Paid Family Leave
“When my wife and I found out we were expecting our first child everyone told us to brace for the big change coming to our lives. With both of us being Gilbane employees we were able to utilize the family leave benefit and take time to bond with our daughter and adjust to our new life. We feel blessed to work for such a family-focused company that cares enough to make such a benefit available, it really shows how much the company stands by its work/life balance.”
Carlos C. Neves, AC, LEED AP | Project Manager
“My daughter was born in early July and when I heard about the paternity leave, there was no way that I was going to pass it up, regardless of how busy our lives get in this industry. I’m lucky to work for a company like Gilbane and to be in a very supportive team that allowed me to take the time off.”
Sarah Olson | Senior Graphics & Presentation Services Manager
“I had a very positive experience with the expanded family leave benefits. Prior to the implementation it was a little daunting as a first-time mom to have to go back to work and send my daughter to daycare after just six weeks. I was trying to work out whether to take all my vacation time or leave some in case something unexpected happened. I am lucky that I didn’t have to make that decision.”
If you are considering adding this benefit, there are many details to consider, and it’s recommended that HR teams leverage the expertise of employment counsel with FMLA expertise to craft their company’s paid family leave benefit. As a starting point, read the United States Department of Labor Family and Medical Leave Act.