Paid parental leave covers maternity, paternity, and adoption leave. It falls under the umbrella of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and provides income for employees needing to care or bond with their newborn or adopted children. There are two types of leave including maternal and parental leave, however many employers and organizations prefer to reference this type of benefit as parental leave to avoid gender discrimination or inequality.
Advocates of paid parental leave believe that this benefit creates several incentives for the parent and company they work for. Parents have an increased desire to remain employed with a company that offers this benefit even though they won’t be going out on leave in the near future. Furthermore, for those employees who do go out on leave, are far more likely to return to work once their leave is over.
There is also a positive correlation between paid parental leave and the economy. Overall income increases as this benefit supports two-income households. In countries with paid parental leave, research has found additional positive long-term effects. There has been a significant decrease in the infant mortality rate due to increased bonding between parent and child. Countries with paid parental leave have also seen an increase in the fertility rates.
In the US, there are only four states that mandate paid parental leave including California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California. These states each offer differing benefits but generally provide 6-8 weeks of income at a percentage of the employee’s salary. Rhode Island extends job protection up to 30 weeks.
A major challenge of paid parental leave is ensuring that employers don’t discriminate against women of child rearing age. In some countries, there has been some association between decreased employment levels for women in this group because of the potential costs of paying and protecting the individual’s position while they’re out on leave. To combat this, many countries refrain from offering paid maternity leave and prefer to offer paid parental leave; ensuring that both genders have an equal opportunity to go out on leave, resulting in less bias during the hiring process.
Learn more about employment law and pregnancy in the workplace.