Human Resources News & Insights

Establishing a solid paid parental leave policy: 4 keys

Is paid parental leave right for your company?  

An increasing number of employers are offering paid parental leave benefits – and an even greater number are thinking about doing so in the near future.

If you fall into the latter category, you’ll need to draft a solid policy for providing the paid parental leave benefits.

To help, FMLA Insights founder Jeff Nowak offers some best practices on what the policy should take into consideration before adding the benefit:

Decide when it kicks in

Because employers get to decide the eligibility requirements of this benefit (instead of the feds), they can require employees to work a certain number of hours before it kicks in.

This would be similar to the way many firms require workers to accrue a certain amount of vacation before they can take time off.

Watch for discrimination traps

Based on the EEOC’s recent pregnancy discrimination guidance, it’s perfectly OK to provide better medical benefits to new mothers than new fathers when it comes to recovery from childbirth.

That makes sense. After all, women physically give birth.

However, employers can’t treat men and women differently when it comes to bonding leave.

So if your company offers bonding leave to female employees with a newborn – instead of leave for pregnancy-related conditions (pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions) – you have to offer the same amount of leave to men.

Otherwise, you could leave yourself open to a discrimination claim.

Consider other paid leave

Employers can require staffers to use their other paid leave (vacation, sick, PTO) before taking advantage of the paid parental leave benefits.

While this strategy is perfectly legal, it could hurt morale.

And improving morale is one of the major reasons employers offer benefits like paid parental leave in the first place.

An alternative option: Requiring employees to use paid leave before parental leave but allowing them to “hold back” a set amount of that vacation time for other points in the year.

Use FMLA accordingly

As Nowak points out, employers have a legal right to run parental leave and FMLA leave concurrently.

Running these two things together make administration much easier for HR and benefits pros.

Adapted from “Should Employers Make Paid Parental Leave a Basic Employee Benefit?” by Jeff Nowak.

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