It’s no secret that the United States falls far behind other countries when it comes to supporting new families in the workplace. Between having no nationwide legal requirement for paid maternity leave to skimpy offerings that help support new parents, there’s a lot to be desired.
However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Providing even modest perks for new parents will go a long way to help attract top talent and retain your workforce.
So what employee benefits are in demand for parents? We’ve got the scoop on the most popular family benefits for 2018-2019.
Maternity And Paternity Leave
Most organizations currently have no obligation to offer paid maternity or paternity leave for new parents. In fact, most companies are only required to offer unpaid leave for 90 days, per FMLA, guaranteeing a job will not be lost after the birth of a new child. And, FMLA only covers women who worked 1,250 hours during a year for a company that employs 50 or more people. For context, that only covers ~59% of workers. Only four states currently have paid maternity leave laws.
What is your maternity leave policy? Do you simply offer the basics, with a 3-month amnesty period for new moms? What if you offered more?
While you might not be able to offer full paid maternity or paternity leave for all employees, consider a few of these solutions:
Partial Paid Leave – If you can’t offer fully paid leave, consider offering a partially paid program where you pay a percentage of the employee salary or wages or you cover a specified amount of weeks during the leave. Some pay is better than no pay!
Paternity Leave – Dads often get left in the dust during what should be an exciting new chapter. Most dads are forced to pull from an existing paid time off bank to have any time off with mom and the new baby. Consider building in a paternity leave program for new dads and even offering full or partial pay during this time.
Flex Return To Work Program – Returning to work full time after starting a family can be a challenging transition. Help make this transition easier by offering a flexible return to work program. By allowing parents to slowly get back into their career, you will greatly reduce the stress that is common after yet another big life change. The program should be customizable and meet the specific needs of each employee to make them feel fully supported and welcomed back during the transition.
Studies have shown that not only does paid leave not negatively impact the bottom line, but it can also be good for business. And, studies indicate that employees that are offered paid leave are less likely to leave the workforce.
Parental Counseling Services
Bringing a new human into the world can be intimidating, especially for first-time parents. Help make the new parent experience less scary with parental counseling services. Companies like Maven offer a wide array of services for new parents, like counseling, parenting classes, group sessions, a full library of free resources and much more. Providing counseling services will ensure that your new parents feel supported before, during and after their big life change.
Adoption or Fertility Assistance
Starting a family is a dream for many families, and fertility issues can be a devastating roadblock. Though alternative solutions are available, like in vitro fertilization (IVF) or adoption, these routes are often expensive and can be out of reach for many families.
Just how expensive?
Though a handful of states do currently require health insurance companies cover fertility assistance, the majority of states do not require this type of coverage and the states that do cover programs often do not fully cover services or do not cover IVF. Adoption fees are not covered by standard medical insurance policies.
Curious about what other companies are offering? Well, Bank of America, Facebook and Spotify top the list by offering $100,000 of IVF coverage. Ferring Pharmaceuticals offers $25,000 in financial support and 5.5 weeks of paid leave.
Even if full fee coverage is not a possibility for your organization, offering a stipend to help support parents in need is certainly better than nothing. And, consider offering parents adopting the same maternity and paternity leave perks as other parents.
On-Site Childcare or Child Care Assistance
Support for new parents shouldn’t stop after maternity leave is over. Returning to work can be a tough decision, with parents weighing the cost of child care and leaving their newborn all day versus the value of a second salary. Offering on-site childcare or a childcare assistance stipend will go a long way to retain your talented new moms and make it easier to justify returning to work.
Currently, less than 10% of organizations offer on-site child care. Despite the high cost, this premium perk can improve parent productivity, help retain and attract employees, boost company morale and offer emotional stability.
Dependent care reimbursement accounts were slightly more popular, with 35% of employers offering the perk. Reimbursement accounts are similar to other benefit accounts where employees can set aside pre-tax income to cover dependent care expenses, including child care. Employers can also contribute to these accounts to help offset the cost carried by employees.
Often, new mothers have very limited options for breastfeeding and pumping in the workplace. Because of this, the decline in breastfeeding that is often observed correlates directly with the timeline of when women typically return to the workforce. Hmmm.
Despite the Healthcare Reform Act, which included amendments to the Fair Labor Standards act by adding the Nursing Mothers Amendment, not much has actually changed for mothers wishing to breastfeed. Currently, less than 50% of organizations offer a dedicated space for nursing mothers to breastfeed.
Providing a safe and private place for new mothers to nurse or pump is a very affordable solution and a great perk to show support for new moms. And, not only will this benefit improve employee retention, it will also help reduce the long-term cost of health care for your organization. Studies show that breastfeeding babies is essential for the growth and development of infants. Breastfeeding leads to healthy babies, which in turn results in fewer doctors visits and fewer health issues down the road.
Be sure to check out our post on ‘Creative Employee Benefits For Every Budget’ for even more benefits inspiration!
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