Why Paid Parental Leave Just Makes Good Business Sense

Have you ever witnessed a mixed group of Americans and Canadians — or people from any other developed Western country — at a professional conference or similar venue discussing their respective employment benefits?

Inevitably an offhand comment about health care or parental leave brings the conversation to a screeching halt as at least one American worker says in disbelief, “Wait, you get legally guaranteed paid parental leave? For up to a year? And many employers top up the federal guaranteed amount as part of a typical benefits package?”

Not all American workers realize how out of step state and federal laws are compared to the rest of the developed world. Not only is some form of universal health care found in basically every other developed country, so is guaranteed paid parental leave.

In fact, most of the developing world also has the United States beat, given that the U.S. is one of only five countries with absolutely no minimum parental leave benefits guaranteed.

And the shock goes both ways: Employees with kids who discover the lack of nationwide standard for American workers are surprised as they try to imagine both parents working full-time within weeks of a difficult labor and with a newborn at home needing to be fed every couple of hours.

This doesn’t really work even from the most basic biological perspective, does it? But what about from a business or economic perspective?

The International Labour Organization calls for a minimum of 14 weeks paid leave, with that pay being no less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular salary. Many countries will pay for up to a year, though in some cases the percentage drops progressively throughout this period.

It turns out over 70 percent of small business owners support guaranteed paid parental leave. The proposal receiving this level of support is very similar to what the ILO calls for, and it seems that business owners — most of them, at least — not only feel that such plans are affordable, but also that they are good investments.

Why? Efficiency is impacted by such things as high employee turnover and low employee productivity, with the latter being affected by low employee morale and poor health. And a failure to provide adequate leave negatively impacts all of these metrics.

More broadly, parental leave is tied to societal benefits, such as parent-infant bonding and children’s well-being, which ultimately impacts the next generation’s productivity and social and economic health.

But, of course, the effects are more immediate: Providing this necessary leave to parents improves their productivity as well. For instance, California’s paid leave pilot program has been a huge success – though it still has room for improvement.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is treating people as a valuable resource, be they employees or citizens. Many resources have already been invested in these individuals, and their strengths could be diminished if we run them down mentally or physically by not providing time off when it’s needed.

Compare this to an approach where we treat people disposable. It turns out that replacing an employee who we have run into the ground is a lot harder — whether that means someone reaching their emotional or financial limit and leaving their job or becoming permanently burnt-out and working at a minimal level of productivity as a way to cope.

Even for politicians and employers with no empathy or moral compass whatsoever, the business and economic case is clear: Paid parental leave is well worth the comparatively small investment.

TAKE ACTION!

Please sign and share this Care2 petition urging Congress to guarantee paid parental leave and support American families.
If you want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling, you too can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. Youll find Care2‘s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

50 comments

Thomas M
Thomas M13 hours ago

Thank you

SEND
Lisa M
Lisa Myesterday

I don't support anything that encourages human reproduction and further overpopulation of the invasive human species. I agree with Alea. I would prefer women be encouraged to NOT have children! Furthermore, pregnancy is a choice or a mistake, not a disability. If someone needs paid leave for an illness or to take care of a sick child who is already in this world, or a parent, relative or pets, that makes sense, but only at the discretion of the employer. This should never be mandated by the government and forced on taxpayers.

SEND
Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill1 days ago

That would be great.

SEND
Marija M
Marija M2 days ago

tks

SEND
Vincent T
Vincent T3 days ago

Thanks for posting

SEND
danii p
danii p6 days ago

TYFS

SEND
danii p
danii p6 days ago

TYFS

SEND
danii p
danii p6 days ago

TYFS

SEND
Leo C
Leo C7 days ago

Thank you for posting!

SEND
Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan Hill8 days ago

thanks

SEND