Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Millennials make paid family leave matter

When you accept a job offer, it's just not about the salary, the benefits package your potential employer will offer also matters. Overtime many workers have come to expect 401k matches, paid time off (PTO), life insurance coverage, wellness benefits, etc. But what about paid family leave for birth or adoption of a child? Currently the United States is the only industrial nation that doesn't mandate paid leave for new mothers and fathers. There have been some companies, mostly the tech sector (Facebook, Google, Amazon) bucking the trend by offering this benefit. 

However, many workers don't get paid-leave and if you are one of the lucky ones it probably only covers a woman's postpartum bonding with child for six weeks for a vaginal birth and eight weeks for a c-section under short-term disability (STD). For me the fact that we classify child birth as a disability is a part of the problem. If you can afford to stay home longer you'll get up to 12 weeks of unpaid through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), but that runs concurrent with (STD). Doesn't seem fair when society echoes the sentiment that "being a parent is the most important job you'll have." Now that I am a parent I wholeheartedly believe this but I don't believe our government or private sector employee policies are adequate in helping women or men balance work and family. 

To be transparent I have a personal bias. I'm a 38 year-old new mom of twins I love and adore. I will go back to work after four short months at with them. It's tough to reconcile that if I lived north or south of the United States or in Europe I would be able to be home for a year and the company I work for would have to hold a job for at least a year. I remember when my husband thought he would receive two-weeks paid paternal leave. He got a sobering reality check when his HR department let him know their company policy only extends to his European colleagues. To bond with his new family he had to take personal time-off (PTO), but if they would have died in child birth he would get six days of paid leave to grieve. Moms aren't the only ones getting short changed. Dads too.

I'm glad to see Facebook, Google and other companies in the tech sector taking a stand, but it's not enough. We all can't work at these companies.

My message to millennials

While parental leave may not be a job benefit you care about today, if you plan to start a family in the future it's one you'll want. Advocate NOW!

Here are four things you can do:
  • Learn more, Read More in the Motherhood Manifesto.
  • Check out Momsrising (an advocacy organization promoting paid leave for parents).
  • Let you company know. Talk to an HR professional or if you prefer to stay anonymous add a comment about the importance of this issue to you in an employee engagement/satisfaction survey. (Company leaders that want to retain productive employees pay attention to what their employees say and when they say it.)
  • Let your elected official know you care about this issue for policy changes at a local and national level.
Having sufficient time to bond as a new mom and dad will make you happy and happy employees are productive employees.

Do you have a parental leave story?


Karim said...

I hope you start posting more again.

Aaliyah Miller said...

Thanks Karim. I plan on it.