America is one of the only developed nations in the world that doesn’t necessitate companies to provide paid parental leave. Sadly, a mere 12% of U.S. employees have access to paid maternity leave. Therefore, countless working moms must decide whether to earn a living or care for their young.
America does have the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which lets mothers take 12 weeks of unpaid leave. However, the mother must have been with the company for at least a year and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours. The company must have at least 50 workers within 75 miles of the mother’s workplace.
California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are the only three states where companies are obligated to offer paid maternity leave.
Other countries are quite generous with Canada offering 50 weeks, Norway providing 40, Italy giving 22, and Denmark, Venezuela, France, Spain, Japan, Germany, and Pakistan giving between 12 and 20.
Unfortunately, one-fourth of mothers in the U.S. return to work within two weeks of childbirth, according to the Department of Labor. This decision severely impacts both the mother and child. The mother is more likely to report mental health problems like guilt and grief. This child is more likely to suffer from low IQ and health, which affects their future education and income. Inflexible policies make it harder for mothers to breastfeed their child or take them to the doctor when needed.
Maternity leave helps just about everyone — the mother, father, child, and even the company. Many companies may worry about being able to afford to support a working mom, but there are plenty of scientifically proven economic and productivity benefits of paid maternity leave.
The Company Will Have Better Recruiting.
A company which offers parental leave to its workers lets everyone know that they are valued and supported. Employees won’t have to worry that their employers won’t care for them in times of need. It helps foster a community of inclusivity and positivity for everyone involved, whether or not they plan on taking advantage of such benefits. Who wouldn’t want to work for a place like that?
Offering top-notch benefits helps attract fantastic talent. In fact, a PaperG study found that 61% of female employees they surveyed wouldn’t consider working for a tech company that didn’t have maternity leave. Furthermore, a 2016 survey conducted by Strategic Benefits discovered that 50% of HR professionals said that leave benefits were important to their workers.
The Company Experience Less Turnover.
In 2014, Kieran Snyder, CEO of Textio, gathered the stories of more than 700 women who left the tech industry for various reasons. Nearly half of them reported that motherhood played some role in their decision to go. Some mothers said that their environment made it hard to breastfeed. Others weren’t given time off and had to quit. Some said that they weren’t getting paid enough to pay for childcare.
Likewise, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, reported that tech companies which provide maternity leave see high retention rates. In a Washington Post article, she wrote that increasing leave at Google from 12 weeks to 18 weeks dropped turnover by 50%.
Turnover costs can damage a company’s budget. Factors such as time and finances allocated to interviewing, background checks, job posting, onboarding, and training all add up to a significant amount. On average, replacing a low-wage or mid-wage employee costs the company about 16% to 20% of that person’s annual salary. Replacing a CEO or executive could cost the business over 200% of that person’s yearly wages.
Your Workers Will Be Less Stressed.
America is notorious for how hard its employees work. In fact, data from ILO found that U.S. employees over 100 more hours than Japanese workers and nearly 500 hours more than French citizens. On top of all that, U.S. companies aren’t required to provide sick days or paid time off.
The majority of American workers clock in more than 40 hours a week. However, science shows that working 50 or more hours leads to a decrease in productivity. There eventually comes a point where putting in extra hours is doing nothing more than wasting time. Nonetheless, many Americans are inspired to be like Elon Musk who famously said that he worked 100 hours a week.
Overworking leads to absentee rates, obesity, relationship problems, work-related injuries, depression, and tobacco and alcohol consumption. Mothers often work 80 hours doing childcare and related tasks. That’s two full workweeks.
Providing paid maternity leave gives working moms a much-needed break. Juggling too many tasks leads to poor performance and burnout. Mothers who take their leave often return to work happier and more productive. Those who return to work too soon report problems such as irritability, lack of concentration, sleep problems, and depression.
Your Employees Won’t Worry About Money.
A study from the International Foundation of Employee Benefits Plan (IFEBP) found that four out of five employers believe that financial stress impacted their employees’ performance. Rather than concentrating on their work, too many staff members are checking their bank account, crunching numbers, or worrying about making the next loan payment. The survey found that employees often can’t focus, show up late, or stay home due to stress.
Now try to think about how tough working mothers have it. A baby is an expense they can’t ignore. Food, diapers, and clothes all cost at least $200 a month, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Plus, low-income employees are even more disadvantaged since they often don’t have access to paid leave and they don’t have as much money saved up. About one-fifth of mothers who have a partial pay or unpaid leave end up asking others for help. More than half reporting difficulties making ends meet.
You Won’t Need to Worry About Negative Effects.
Many companies worry about offering paid parental leave due to its hefty costs. It’s easy to understand why businesses may be hesitant as supporting a working mother may not be something they think they can afford. That is especially true for smaller corporations.
However, data shows different results. One study of more than 200 discovered that California’s maternity leave laws didn’t harm businesses as much as they expected. In fact, over 90% of companies said that maternity leaves improved or didn’t affect profits, turnover, morale, or performance. Over 80% said that the law didn’t increase their costs.
Other studies from maternity-friendly states reported similar findings. One survey of New Jersey companies found that they delegated work to employees rather than bringing on new talent. Another study found that maternity leave didn’t hamper Rhode Island companies’ attendance, productivity, or morale. Plus, most Rhode Island firms favored the parental leave law.
Companies don’t need to worry about maternity leave ruining their profits or productivity. Everyone else in the world is doing it just fine. In fact, instituting parental leave would help everyone — the parents, workers, babies, and the company itself. Employees will be happier, and mothers will raise a generation of children that are intelligent, healthy, and successful.