Paid family leave is quickly becoming one of the most sought after employee benefits, and only about 14% of working parents are currently getting that perk. But that number is about to change.
Companies offering paid family leave is on the rise now that many employees are fighting for it. Just this month, Lyft expanded its policy, and it was all because of one employee.
Paid leave victory
Sarah Johal, founder of one of Lyft’s employee resource groups, knew the company desperately needed to improve its paid family leave plan. While Lyft did offer paid leave, it wasn’t fair for everyone. Primary caregivers (a.k.a. mothers) received three months of leave, but secondary caregivers (a.k.a. fathers) only had up to six weeks off.
“It was unequal treatment,” Johal said. “We want to match the office benefits with the values of inclusivity that Lyft very much cares about.”
Johal connected with the organization Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), which has been helping employees gather the tools and information they need to approach their HR departments about paid leave. With the help of PL+US, Johal presented her case to the benefits team, pointing out how expanded paid leave could improve retention.
The presentation worked. Lyft updated its paid leave policy to 18 weeks for both new mothers and fathers. Caregiver support leave was also expanded to 12 weeks.
PL+US has also helped improve Walmart’s paid leave policy, which used to offer no time off for non-birthing parents. Employees organized many protests, which were instrumental in this change. Now, non-birthing parents get six weeks of paid leave.
PL+US says it is constantly approached by employees who want their companies to offer paid leave, but aren’t sure how to ask for it. Many employers are reluctant to take on this extra cost, but soon they may not have much of a choice. The organization is confident more companies will implement or improve paid leave policies.
“If you can get the biggest players to change their policies, very quickly everyone else changes their policies to be competitive. If you get the industry leaders to move, you can get a lot of movement,” PL+US said.
Whether you offer paid family leave or not, there’s a good chance your employees want more out of this benefit, and they aren’t afraid to ask for it.