Paid family leave helps many people afford the time off they desperately need, but it also has a major impact on organizations. If your company currently has more than 50 employees, then you're likely already familiar with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and fall under its jurisdiction. The law guarantees certain employees up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave each year with no threat of job loss. The problem, however, is that because it's unpaid, many people can't afford to take time off, even though they're legally allowed to.
To alleviate the financial pressure of taking unpaid time off , there's been some recent political discussion about implementing a paid family leave through a payroll deduction, and some states, including California, Rhode Island and New Jersey, have already implemented plans. New York was the latest to introduce a paid leave plan, which rolled out on January 1, 2018.
Nothing's been decided at the federal level yet, but if your state is the next one to enact a paid family leave plan, will you be ready? Here's what it might mean for your business.
Paid family leave is funded through a staff-wide payroll deduction, instead of requiring each employer to self-fund the leave. But other rules vary from state to state. In New York, for example, everyone who has worked a minimum number of hours (26 weeks for people who work 20 hours a week or more, and 175 days for people who work less than 20 hours a week), qualifies. New Jersey law, meanwhile, is unique because it doesn't offer job protection during the duration of paid leave.
Ultimately, your state's law may vary greatly from existing legislature, so pay close attention to the wording of any plans that earn approval.
With paid leave on the table, it's likely that more people will take advantage of it. For example, mothers and fathers are equally entitled to FMLA when a new baby arrives, but right now only 22 percent of fathers take advantage of it. You can expect that number to jump somewhat.
However, there is a caveat—no paid leave plan covers 100 percent of salary. New York currently covers 50 percent of salary, capping the benefit at a maximum of $652.96 per paycheck. As a result, though there may be an uptick in employees opting for a paid leave, it likely won't be drastic.
The cost to individuals under participating states' existing plans are minimal. The payroll deductions range from 0.8 percent to 1.2 percent, with various maximum caps. In New York, the maximum you'll pay is about $85 annually, while the maximum contribution in California is $960.
But what happens when the government miscalculates the amount of money needed? Could it mean increased contributions or decreased payouts? It's hasn't been a problem so far—California's law has been running for 10 years and remains solvent. Still, that doesn't mean that each state is on top of the costs. And, once a benefit is implemented, if there isn't enough money to pay out, it will be difficult to roll it back. Keep an eye on your state's payout projections to prepare for any bumps along the road.
Who Will Take Leave?
While having a baby is one of the top reasons for paid leave, the new plan isn't just for growing families. Many of these plans have been limited strictly to parents taking care of children—for example, a sick child can also be a reason for a leave, or the placement of a foster child. In New York, however, the leave also extends to employees taking care of elderly parents or grandparents.
Paid family leave is crucial for employees, but its impact on businesses will depend on how the programs are implemented, and the makeup of your workforce. Keep your eyes and ears open, and be vocal—let your local and federal lawmakers know what will be best for businesses in your state.
Photo: Creative Commons
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Ten Dad-Friendly Workplaces
When we talk about the quest to "have it all," it's almost always in reference to working women trying to balance a stressful 9-to-5 with the equally difficult demands of family. To be sure, women face distinct challenges in the workplace and high expectations at home. But this Father's Day, let's not forget that dads are increasingly juggling work and home life, too. Single fatherhood is becoming more common in the US—a 2013 Pew report found that a record 8 percent of families with children were headed by a single dad—and 60 percent of households with children are dual-income as of 2014, putting added pressure on both working parents. While policies in the US do not mandate paid family leave of any kind—unlike parent-topia Sweden, which offers 16 months of paid parental leave and three months specifically for paternity leave—many companies are now thinking about how they can help their workers be "Employee of the Year," without sacrificing their "Dad of the Year" trophy. Here are ten excellent companies for working dads, based on a new report from parenting resource website Fatherly. 1. Google Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 53,600 Paid Paternity Leave: 7 weeks (12 weeks for primary caregiver) Industry: Tech Dad-friendly Policy Highlight: When you work with Google, your family is part of the family—really. If an employee passes away, the company provides his/her spouse with 50 percent of their salary for 10 years and immediately vested stock options, and children receive $1,000 a month until they turn 19 (or 23 if they're a student). 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Number Of Employees: 10,082 Paid Paternity Leave: 17 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: Procreating pays off. Facebook gives new parents a $4,000 "new child benefit," along with subsidized day care. Not to mention the $20,000 worth of supplemental insurance coverage for fertility and family planning treatments. 3. Bank of America Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Charlotte, NC Number Of Employees: 220,000 Paid Parental Leave: 12 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Bank of America's twelve weeks of paid paternity leave is on par with countries likeIceland. Not too shabby. And, if you can handle the pay break, the company also allows for an additional 14 weeks of unpaid leave. 4. Patagonia Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Ventura, CA Number Of Employees: 2,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 8 weeks Industry: Retail Policy Highlight: Working parents don't have to stray far from their kids as Patagonia provides on-site child care for kids up to nine years old. The famously laid-back company will also provide afternoon transportation from local schools back to the office babysitter. 5. State Street Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Boston, MA Number Of Employees: 29,530 Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Flexible work arrangements are a must for the busy working dad (or mom). State Street's program helps take the stress out of setting up some work-from-home time by requiring their managers to approach their employees about flexible work options. 6. Genentech Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: San Francisco, CA Number Of Employees: 14,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Biotech Policy Highlight: Along with dedicated paid paternity time, Genentech also offers a sabbatical program for long-term employees. Every six years, you earn six months of time off—perfect for a long summer trip with the kids. 7. LinkedIn Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 6,800 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: LinkedIn likes to encourage employees to think outside their cubicle and, in addition to "special projects" time once a month, you will get a $5,000 stipend for job-related education expenses. Maybe "Childcare 101" would qualify? 8. Arnold & Porter LLP Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Washington D.C. Number Of Employees: 1,284 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks (18 for primary caregiver) Industry: Legal Policy Highlights: If your spouse or partner is gainfully employed and you'd like to trade some of those work hours for family time, Arnold and Porter allows employees working at least 25 hours to qualify for benefits. The firm even has an expert panel on hand to help their lawyers make the switch to part-time. 9. Roche Diagnostics Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN (North American HQ) Number Of Employees: 4,500 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Healthcare Policy Highlight: Roche employees have plenty of opportunities to teach Junior essential life lessons like how to swing a bat or grow a juicy tomato. The company spends $35,000 annually on sponsored extracurriculars like community sports leagues, and also offers an on-site employee produce garden. 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: New York, NY Number Of Employees: 41,000 (U.S.) Paid Parental Leave: 6 weeks (plus an additional 2 weeks if have or adopt more than one kid) Industry: Professional Services Policy Highlight: Another company that values ad-hoc work schedules, PwC allows employees work-from-home options as well as ""Flex Days." So if you can cram 40 hours of work into less than five days and clear your schedule, you could end up with more frequent three-day weekends and more time with the kids. Photo: Shutterstock