While the last two decades witnessed a steady rise in pregnancy discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there is good news out there for working families.
Many companies are opting to create innovative and forward-thinking ways to support working parents and, in some cases, companies are blazing the trail ahead of state or federal legislation. There is no mandated federal parental-leave policy to follow, so many employers are opting to craft their own, according to HR Executive.
While high-profile companies like Patagonia have decades of practice, and generate significant positive publicity, offering benefits and perks for families ranging from multi-month leave to adoption and fertility assistance to on-site daycare, there are models for companies looking to simply get started.
Getting started may mean expanding benefits available to employees by offering health and dental coverage for immediate family members or a discounted rate on family plans. Providing a bonus for childcare or exploring a partnership with a local childcare provider shows that there may be different ways to approach a single challenge, in this case the cost of child care. Or, if a company can’t financially support childcare, it may be able to offer flexibility when time off is needed for a sick child, or to attend a school function, as explored in Forbes.
Sometimes an employer may decide to offer a highly specific benefit. Benefit News reports that some benefits for new moms, like breast milk shipping for women who are traveling while nursing, will continue to become more popular with larger, well-known companies potentially leading the charge. A nursing-friendly workplace may offer comfortable, private lactation areas, time to pump built into a day or other policies addressing a concern that might otherwise keep a talented new mom out of the workforce.
Thoughtful, responsive policies need not only focus on working mothers who recently gave birth. Prenatal considerations, maternity leave, and flexible post-baby work options are still very much up for discussion. But today, the changing face of the American family requires companies to be mindful and draft policies that support the diverse ways families form and function.
While the number of parents who don’t work stayed about the same, dads are staying home in higher numbers than in years past. As more millennial and Gen Z workers become parents, pregnancy and family support will not only continue to be on the forefront of desirable benefits for employees, those benefits will very likely continue to evolve.
Worried how babies may impact your bottom line? In good news to businesses, many family-friendly policies could be very good for business too, according to HR Dive. The already constricted talent market could see an influx of more than five million workers if more robust parental leave policies or other creative family-friendly solutions were implemented. Helping future and current parents join the workforce can be beneficial for everyone. Likewise, efforts to keep parents on leave connected and engaged, or to allow for a phased return, would also potentially help with post-leave retention.
Making family-forward policies an HR priority in 2019? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel or overhaul your entire workplace culture to make a difference. Consider involving the voices of your employees for small, practical steps you can take and to get a pulse read on the bigger concerns on their minds. Before you start, and if you have 15 or more employees, Workforce offers a refresher on some of the required protections. Be sure to review your state’s minimums with requirements detailed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).