Parental leave is technically a basic human and citizen right, but its paid forms are becoming more and more of a luxury in the current work field. It usually falls on employers whether they want to offer an extended paid parental leave, and since many small and medium companies are already struggling to survive on the harsh market, very few of them are generous in this department.
Until recently, even high earning executives at major companies across the U.S found that they have a difficult time obtaining a paid parental leave when they welcomed a child into the family. The solution more often than not is to simply take an extended leave of absence even if it’s unpaid, if you can afford it, or make do only with what is on the table.
Recently, a wave of change has seemingly started to take shape: more and more American companies have started to realize the importance of helping their employees achieve a healthier work-life balance, and one of the key pillars of it is employer provided leave for new parents. The basic principle driving this subtle revolution in employee benefits is this: if the employee is overall satisfied with their work-life balance and have enough safe time to solve their problems in their personal life, they will also perform better at work. It may seem like a tricky bet to employers who aren’t really looking at medium and long-term productivity, but there is already a palpable wind of change. As usual, innovation is driven mainly by the tech industry, with companies such as Google and Facebook leading the trend, and others just now jumping on the paid for parent leave bandwagon.
Today’s Standards in Paid Parental Leave
As you can see from the picture above, the United States is really among the worst countries possible when it comes to paid parental leave. We don’t really offer, by law, any amount of paid parental time whatsoever. Many other countries would call this appalling and inhumane, and they wouldn’t be that far off for doing so. The official legal standard (imposed by the Family and Medical Leave Act) only offers 12 weeks of unpaid new parent leave for employees who qualify. That’s pretty worrisome, considering that the addition of a baby to the family is already putting financial strain on the new parents, and being deprived of an income couldn’t actually come at a worse time.
Furthermore, recent statistics show that one in 4 U.S. mothers only take 2 weeks leave when having a baby, which is a really short time for their medical recovery, not to mention for properly caring for the baby and bonding with it. To cut a long and sad story short, the law doesn’t currently make a specific period of time mandatory for compensated parent leave, which leaves the matter up to employers, who may or may not be willing and able to offer proper amounts.
How Twitter Jobs Innovate Parental Benefits
The most recent tech company which joined the paid new-parent leave bandwagon is Twitter. In a highly admirable move (and which, make no mistake, will also bring with it cold hard business benefits like increasing employee retention and productivity), the company has announced that all Twitter jobs now ensure 20 weeks of paid leave for all new parents. The non-discriminative approach to parental leave employed by the company also ensures that all parents are entitled to this paid leave, no matter if they’re moms or dads. If you’ve ever considered switching your job for one at a major tech company because they are the future, now you have even more of an incentive for doing so.
Useful resource: to see if you qualify for paid parental leave and attempt to negotiate it with your employer, first take a look at the official government’s guidelines here.
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