Throughout the countless companies and industries around the country, there is one issue that spans nearly every sector as among the most important in the eyes of employees everywhere: paid parental leave. It's a topic that has received a fair bit of discussion over the years, especially recently, and it may be coming to a head very soon.
Organizations that don't currently offer paid leave for parents – virtually all companies within the U.S. – should be prepared for potential imminent changes in this regard. Where does paid parental leave currently stand in terms of lawmakers and legislators, and what does your company need to know to prepare?
Where paid parental leave currently stands
Paid parental leave is something of a unicorn within the working world currently. While not completely unheard of, it's difficult to find in most companies. However, there are currently organizations that are well-known for their generous paid-leave policies, and these may be leading the way in the near future.
One big example is the online streaming giant Netflix. According to Entrepreneur magazine, the business offers its employees one year of unlimited paid leave when a child is born. Other major companies have similar, though less extreme plans in place. Twitter, for example, grants new mothers 20 weeks of paid leave, and half that to new fathers.
What is driving the changes?
There are many factors behind the shift toward increasing parental leave, but perhaps one of the biggest is the changing workforce itself. The Society for Human Resource Management noted that millennials are more insistent on maintaining a proper work-life balance than older generations. With this age group composing the majority of the workforce and growing steadily, it's likely that paid parental leave will continue to be a significant issue that companies will need to work toward.
"It could be argued that this generation is inciting a workplace revolution," said Maria Black, president of ADP TotalSource told the SHRM. "Therefore, implementing family-friendly policies has become increasingly important for companies that want to recruit and retain" Millennial talent."
What do companies need to know?
There isn't currently any legislation mandating paid parental leave. However, it's a smart move for businesses that want to stay competitive. Even smaller organizations that can't offer a full paid leave can provide increased flexibility for working parents as an attractive benefit.