What do the United States and Papua New Guinea have in common? Not much – except according to the United Nations’ International Labour Organization, we are the only countries in the world that do not provide paid time off to new mothers.
Paid maternity leave has long been a coveted benefit, but responsibility for footing the bill has been the subject of great debate. President Obama sparked renewed conversation when he touched upon paid parental leave – which expands on traditional maternity leave to include paternity leave, adoption leave, etc. – in his January 2015 State of Union speech. While federal efforts to legislate paid leave will be hotly contested, private companies and select state and local governments are starting to embrace parental leave benefits.
Most recently, Johnson & Johnson announced that all employees who are new parents will now be eligible for eight additional weeks of paid leave during the first year of the child's birth or adoption. Mothers who give birth can take up to 17 paid weeks off and new fathers can take at least nine weeks. As cited in a corporate blog post, the company is “immensely proud to be at the forefront of driving the type of critical change needed to align workplace policies with the realities of the 21st Century family.”1
Johnson & Johnson’s decision was probably also fueled by some compelling evidence that paid parental leave may often be the key to increased productivity and employee retention. In an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, former Google executive (now CEO of YouTube) Susan Wojcicki reported that the rate at which new mothers left Google fell by 50 percent when the company increased paid maternity leave from 12 to 18 weeks. She wrote that it would be better for Google's bottom line "to avoid costly turnover and to retain the valued expertise, skills, and perspective of our employees who are mothers."
Are paid parental leaves in your company’s future? What are the trends and best practices for parental leave benefits? We have prepared a white paper to provide an overview of the changing landscape, explore employer approaches and sum up best practices.
1 “J&J and the 21st Century Working Family,” Johnson & Johnson’s Blog, April 29, 2015 http://www.blogjnj.com/2015/04/jj-and-the-21st-century-working-family/.