The "Big Push"

It's coming...

In his 2015 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced the White House's commitment to adopting paid maternity leave policies. The president called on Congress, states, and cities to adopt paid leave policies and announced funding to encourage feasibility studies on paid leave policies. your company ready?

For the federal government's "big push" for paid maternity leave, that is.

The potential ramifications for your organization are considerable. Here's what you need to know to prepare:

The State of the Legislation

The United States is currently one of only four countries worldwide that does not provide paid maternity leave for its workers. Only California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have state laws requiring employers to provide paid maternity leave. Other states allow employers to choose whether or not to provide paid leave.

  • The Family Act. Introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in 2013, this act would require employers to offer three months of paid leave at 66 percent salary to new parents. The bill is currently being considered in committee.
  • The Healthy Families Act (HR 1286). Introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), this act requires employers with 15 or more employees to allow employees to accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers must be allowed to use this time for maternity leave, as well as for other medical needs. The bill is currently being considered in committee.
  • Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act. The White House has also promised to support legislation similar to the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would provide paid administrative leave for federal employees who are expecting the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child.

How Will Paid Parental Leave Affect Your Business?

Paid leave for new mothers or fathers comes with benefits and drawbacks for any business. Here are just a few of them:

  • Pro: New mothers who receive paid leave are more likely to return to work 9-to-12 months after giving birth than mothers who do not, according to a National Partnership for Women & Families study. This means higher retention and reduced turnover costs. When Google instituted paid parental leave, the company saw its turnover rates due to pregnancy and adoption drop by half.
  • Pro: Productivity increases with paid leave. In one California study, 90 percent of businesses reported that paid maternity leave either improved their bottom line or had "no noticeable effect."
  • Con: Setting up an effective and efficient paid parental leave program can take time and money, which must be factored in to the overall costs. While 87 percent of businesses in a California study reported no increased costs, four percent actually reported a loss.
  • Con: While workers are out on paid leave, their work still needs to be done. Juggling workloads or asking other staff members to cover for a worker on leave can be tough on morale, especially in a smaller business setting.

How Will Paid Parental Leave Affect Your Workers?

Workers benefit from paid parental leave in multiple ways. But what surprises many employers are the benefits that accrue even for workers who don't take paid leave:

  • Morale improves. Fully 99 percent of employers responding in the California study reported that employee morale increased when paid leave policies were implemented. A similar study in New Jersey found measurable reductions in stress among employees who could access paid leave.
  • Competitiveness improves. California businesses with 50 to 99 employees reported gaining a significant edge against their larger competitors. The implementation of paid leave allowed these businesses to attract top talent by offering the same benefits as competing firms.
  • Healthcare costs decrease. Mothers who return to work too soon after childbirth may experience complications, and the child may suffer lingering health effects as well. Paid leave allows the family to address these concerns before they can cut too deeply into a company's healthcare funds.

Filling the Gap When New Parents Step Away

Despite the benefits for workers and the reported positive impacts on businesses, human resources managers are still left with a tough question when an employee takes leave: How do we fill the gap? Who will step in to handle the workload, and will we be able to trust that the work will be done as well as it is when our regular staff members are present and accounted for?

Staffing firms specialize in offering creative solutions for short- and long-term staffing problems. Working with your staffing partner when the need for leave arises:

  • Ensures access to qualified temporary help;
  • Makes leave transitions seamless;
  • Allows you to maintain productivity and morale; and
  • Promotes better work-life balance to your direct staff.

Have an upcoming leave or absence on the horizon? Contact Here's Help Staffing and Recruiting today.