New Ways to Approach Paid Leave for Employees

September 21, 2018

Paid leave is unquestionably one of the most highly-valued employee benefits. In fact, 43% of employees survey stated that paid leave was the single benefit that made them feel most loved by their employer. In the past few decades employee leave programs have shifted away from siloed classifications of sick leave, vacation, etc., to a more flexible approach of PTO. 40% of companies that have made this switch report higher overall engagement of their workforce accord to a World at Work study.

Going beyond simply offering more flexibility through PTO, leading employers are taking a new approach to other forms of paid leave directed toward an expanded view of family and other paid leave policies.

A New Look at Family Leave

According to SHRM, expansion of family leave policies is a leading benefit trend for 2018-2019. Many Fortune 500 companies are looking at family leave from a different lens and are changing their stance. Policy changes range from extending the time allowed for paid family leave, to increasing the classification of eligible employees and expanding the scenarios which might be covered by family leave. As organizations continue to look for opportunities to stand out as a top employer in a tight talent market, more generous, inclusive and flexible family leave policies are a significant differentiator. Below are a few examples of changes to paid and family leave that can help your organization stand out as an employer of choice.

Move Beyond Stereotypes

Paid family leave, known traditionally as maternity leave, is getting a fresh look from major employers including Cisco and Whirlpool, who combined employ over 160,000 individuals globally. Cisco changed the verbiage of eligibility classification in its family leave policy from “birth mother/father” to “main and supporting caregiver”, making these roles gender neutral and allowing for the possibility that either parent may be the main or the supporting caregiver. Cisco also has expanded its family leave policy to account for the ways in which an employee’s family may grow through surrogacy or adoption and to provide 3 days of family leave for grandparents, recognizing their vital role in creating a supportive family environment.

In 2018, global manufacturer Whirlpool increased the weeks allotted under its family leave policy by offering 4 weeks of leave for fathers, adoptive parents and domestic partners. Whirlpool has long been a pioneer in paid benefits. Its founder, Lou Upton, first offered paid vacation in 1917, at a time when such a benefit was unheard of in the U.S. Giving employees valuable time to spend with family in times of great change such as the addition or expansion of the family is an excellent benefit to support employee well-being in the short and the long-term. Employees have the time they need to give to their families and as a result, are more engaged and productive when they return.

Emergency Leave

While family leave is quickly evolving to meet the expectations and needs of changing demographics, it is not the only type of leave that employers are adding to benefits policies. Emergency leave is a newer classification of paid time off and can be used to handle unexpected problems employees may encounter in their personal life. Emergency leave may encompass a variety of scenarios previously pigeon-holed into categories such as bereavement leave or leave to care for an ill or injured family member. Emergency leave allows employees to deal with personal issues without having to use accrued leave such as PTO.

In parts of Canada, emergency leave has recently been codified, requiring employers to provide 10 days, with at least two paid days, of leave for illness, injury or personal emergency.

Unlimited Leave

Unlimited leave is a boutique benefit offering that is becoming increasingly popular in the tech industry as a recruitment and retention tool for millennial talent. Employers who have implemented unlimited leave find that it benefits them in three ways:

  • Reduction in the cost of tracking and administering leave policies
  • Eliminating the issues of PTO banking “roll-overs” and the resulting
    payout
  • Increased employee engagement

Employers who are considering establishing an unlimited leave policy should take care to have managers lead by example in establishing what a reasonable use of unlimited PTO looks like as some employees might struggle to find the right balance between too little and too much. Setting minimum guidelines and communicating the policy frequently also helps employees make the best use of this benefit.

Determining and administering employee leave plans can be a challenge for any organization. Asure Software’s solutions help organizations manage every aspect of the employer-employee relationship throughout the employee life-cycle.

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