Maternity Leave: How Effective Are the Strategies Pursued by Organizations?
As society is always dependent upon well developed persons for the sake of its own future, the benefits of maternity leave can easily be premised upon this point.
Most legal experts expect President Trump’s proposal to meet a similar fate. Trump campaigned on the promise to bring six weeks of paid maternity leave to working mothers. Under Trump’s policy, new moms would receive 46 percent of their salary during the time off, paid for by reducing waste and abuse, such as overpayments, from within the unemployment insurance system. The plan would apply only to women who have undergone childbirth. While Trump’s proposal has been criticized for excluding adoptive parents and fathers, even its opponents concede that it is a step in the right direction. “I’m happy that he’s talking about it because traditionally Republicans haven’t,” says Aparna Mathur, a resident scholar of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan think tank based in Washington, D.C. However, Trump’s suggested funding source—using monies freed up by reducing waste—is not sustainable, Mathur says, because there are likely only a limited number of areas where expenditures can be reduced in the unemployment insurance system. Leaders at EY decided to improve the organization’s family-leave offerings after conducting surveys among its mostly Millennial workforce, while also reviewing and sponsoring studies on the benefits of offering paid parental leave. “We did analysis, we built a business case, and we built support,” Altobello explains. “We did what we did based on what people want. Everyone needs to do what works for them.” Terakeet took a similar approach. As a result of studying what its employees value most, the company recently adopted a policy that covers any employee eligible for job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The plan includes up to eight weeks at full salary and an additional four weeks at 50 percent pay, with the option to supplement the difference with traditional paid time off. The company’s leaders monitor workers’ needs continuously to create what Thornton calls a “culture of feedback,” enabling them to nimbly adjust offerings accordingly. “We send out surveys; we conduct ‘ask-me-anything’ sessions facilitated by all levels of leadership; we meet regularly with midlevel managers to solicit feedback; we ask what is working and what is not,” Thornton says.
Parents should feel supported, regardless of their gender, to build successful careers and nurture their families (Miller, C., 2015).
A key point of departure is to reflect on the corporate culture around parental leave and to educate managers about how they can best work with returning mothers to ensure a smooth transition, with a focus on open conversations around their preferences.
National Partnership for Women & Families, “Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws that Help New Parents.” Second Edition, May 2012
United States Department of Labor, DOL Policy Brief: Why Parental Leave for Fathers is So Important for Working Families. June 2015.
Miller, C. “The Economic Benefits of Paid Parental Leave”. The New York Times. Jan 30, 2015.