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parental leave policy

4 Steps To Creating A Parental Leave Policy

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Congratulations! You’re having a baby! What a time to be alive. It’s a bit of an overwhelming time, with the excitement and fear of the unknown that comes with having a child. The best thing you can do is take a few moments to create your parental leave policy before it all settles in. 

Being a new parent is challenging. However, a well-written parental leave policy can help you relieve the stress borne by new parents while also retaining or losing a valuable worker. An effective leave policy allows you to recruit and retain top talent in your company without unnecessary legal dilemmas. So, if you have a parental leave policy implemented at your company, that’s great! But if you don’t, it’s high time to develop one. Luckily, we’re here to show you how.

What is a parental leave policy?

A parental leave policy outlines how much time employees are eligible for when they have a child, including whether they may take the leave as paid or unpaid time off. While a company’s first priority is to keep all of its employees happy and healthy, it is important that a company clearly outlines a parental leave policy in an easy-to-understand format. 

This will have numerous benefits, starting with the fact that it will make it easier for HR to recruit new employees. Retaining and attracting top talent is effortless when they know that the company they’re joining has a well-defined leave policy. This is especially beneficial in the case of Millennials. Wondering why? It’s because their opinions matter to today’s employers. Projected to make up at least 75% of the workforce within 10 years, Millennials place a high emphasis on workplace flexibility and paid parental leave. And that’s exactly why designing a well-crafted policy is of utmost importance.

People get pregnant; families grow. But that’s just life, and you should be prepared to deal with it. Parental leave policies differ from country to country, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution that will work for every company. Some companies and countries mandate a policy, while others have no rules regarding this corporate welfare practice. Hence, the most optimal solution is to match parental leave policies to your company’s location, culture, and product.

How to create a parental leave policy

When you’re creating a parental leave policy for employees at your company, there are a few important factors you should keep in mind.

Make it inclusive for all

When it comes to leave policies for new parents, all you need are just two simple sections: disability leave for women who are physically unable to work due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related reasons, and parental leave that’s accessible to all employees, regardless of their gender or caregiver status.

By extending your leave policy to all parents — biological and adoptive parents, the LGBTQ+ community, salary and hourly employees, your company can send out a powerful message. It shows all prospective employees that your company values its people and is committed to equality and diversity at the workplace. 

Don’t be old-fashioned

Try not to invite unnecessary trouble into your life by setting policies that are bound to get criticized by today’s workforce.

Creating a parental leave policy is an opportunity for employers to differentiate themselves from competitors and to attract talented workers. Poorly designed parental leave policies, however, can quickly become public relations nightmares: just ask Amazon or Walmart. Both these companies (among countless others) went through very public scandals. And that is what forced them to adopt more inclusive policies for their employees. More specifically, their pregnant female employees.

Whether your company is escaping a culturally ingrained mindset or avoiding the above-mentioned public relations backlash and legal liability, you should learn from the missteps of others. Create a parental leave policy that works for everyone.

Look at your company’s values

There’s an age-old saying that goes, “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”

A lot of business owners and HR leaders have a lofty vision statement on their site about how they value work/life balance and family time as well as transparency and open communication. Many also have multiple policies in place to ensure that these values are realized in the workplace. But how closely are these values reflected by the actual actions of the firm? Take a close look at your HR practices when it comes to parental leave. There might be a disconnect that could hinder your firm’s ability to attract and retain top talent. Create written policies that reinforce these values and reiterate your company culture. Take Spotify for example.

Spotify’s conversation about parental leave was influenced by the fact that they are a Swedish company. In Sweden, parental leave is a common benefit, one that is provided by all employers. “We can’t have employees just in Sweden benefiting from this amazing generous benefit. Why not have our parents all over the world benefit from being able to bond and spend time with their family?” said Isa Notermans, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Spotify. It’s no wonder why Spotify is one of the most successful companies out there.

Only pay a price you can afford

8 weeks! 12 months! A whole year!

All of these time frames sound great in theory. But like everything in this world, leave policies come with pros and cons. In this case, it’s the price. When you’re setting a leave policy for your business, ask yourself if you can truly afford it. While companies may aspire to have six-month or year-long paid leaves as part of their parental policy, that’s not always feasible for early-stage startups. After all, paid leaves are great, but not at the expense of your business.

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