Tips for Building Your Paid Parental Leave Policy
Employers are increasingly offering paid parental leave, which includes maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave. According to a 2020 Society for Human Resource Management article, "Over half of employers (55 percent) now offer paid maternity leave, 45 percent offer paid paternity leave and 35 percent provide paid extended family care leave."
Paid parental leave can help you attract and retain talent and increase employee well-being and engagement. However, before you offer this type of leave, make sure you have a policy in place. Below are tips for developing the policy.
Explain the purpose of the policy
Generally, paid parental leave enables employees to take time off from work (with pay) for the purpose of caring for and bonding with their newborn biological child, newly adopted child or newly placed foster child.
State which parents can take advantage of paid parental leave. For example, a parent may include:
- Biological mother or father.
- Same-sex partner.
- Adoptive parent.
- Foster parent.
If both parents are employed by your company, state whether only one or both of them can take parental leave.
Describe the eligibility parameters
State what conditions an employee must meet in order to qualify for paid parental leave, in addition to being a "parent" as defined by the policy.
For example, eligibility requirements may include the following:
- The employee must have worked for the company for at least 12 consecutive or nonconsecutive months.
- The employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 consecutive months that precede the start date of the parental leave.
- The employee must either be a regular, full-time or regular, part-time employee.
State the maximum amount, time period, duration and other details of paid parental leave
This may include:
- The number of weeks an employee can take for paid parental leave and whether this amount still stands in the case of multiple births, adoptions or foster child placements.
- The amount of compensation for paid parental leave — such as straight-time pay calculated at the employee's regular hourly rate, to be paid on a biweekly basis.
- How soon after the birth, adoption or foster placement an employee can take paid parental leave.
- Whether employees must take their allotted parental leave all at once or whether it can be taken in increments.
- What happens to any unpaid parental leave employees have while still employed with the company or when they terminate.
Additional policy considerations
- Explain how paid parental leave works with applicable leave taken under the FMLA, or with any short-term disability leave the employee is entitled to.
- Check state law for applicable parental leave regulations. Some states have their own family and medical leave programs and some require employers to provide school-related parental leave.
- Be clear about the procedures for requesting paid parental leave.
- Hire an employment attorney to help you draft a compliant parental leave policy.
Finally, note that family leave is not just good policy—it's increasingly becoming the law. With the passage of the Time to Care Act of 2022, Maryland joins 10 states, including the District of Columbia, to require some level of paid family leave. Other states have already passed family leave laws that will take effect in the near future.
Work with HR professionals to craft a policy that both helps your employees and follows the relevant laws.