How Paid Parental Leave Can Strengthen Businesses
With many couples wanting to develop both a career for themselves and have a family, it can often be difficult to decide whether or not one half of the relationship will take time off to raise children. Although paid statutory maternity leave was introduced in the UK in 1975, and later amended to include paid statutory parental leave, many companies are now looking to improve their existing benefits package to include maternity and paternity programs.
Yet, many businesses don’t offer paid parental leave for if something happens to their family and they need to take time off. For example, if a little one is doing poorly, they’re moving schools or are experiencing difficulties with a new childcare arrangement.
But, does offering better employee benefits such as parental leave help strengthen businesses, and what difference does it make for those working for your company?
What is parental leave?
Simply put, parental leave is time away from work that parents are allowed in order to care for their children. Unpaid parental leave is common and will allow parents to spend more time with their little ones, look at new schools, settle them into new childcare arrangements and more. Plus, all your employment rights are protected during parental leave, such as the right to pay, holiday and returning to your job.
However, it is of course, unpaid. And, with the cost of living remaining high, the thought of taking time away from our jobs can be daunting, especially if we’ll lose income.
What are the challenges facing women?
For women, especially those who are naturally maternal, the want and drive to spend time with our little ones can be big. If something happens in their lives, you may want nothing more to be there for them, despite this meaning a potential cut in monthly earnings.
Trying to both manage a family, household and career can be challenging for anyone. And, with the added stress of dropping to 1½ or even one salary if unpaid parental leave needs to be taken, can add another layer on top.
Why paid parental leave will have a positive impact on business performance
Let’s face it, happier parents means a happier workplace. Paid parental leave gives parents the support they need to be there for their children whenever they need them. Whether it’s welcoming a new child into the family, important medical appointments or time away just to be with them, paid leave is crucial to families.
Research across the globe has shown that offering paid parental leave isn’t just morally right, it’s also good for business and can have a positive impact on performance. Having benefits such as these available for your workforce, can help increase employee retention and attract even more talent through your doors.
In fact, in countries such as Iceland, Finland and Sweden, parents are encouraged to take their leave. In Finland, the government announced its plans to give all parents the same time off, meaning the 14 months paid allowance would be split into 164 days of leave for each parent.
By offering paid parental leave, you’re sending a clear message to your staff that you care about their health, families health, wellbeing and overall quality of life; helping to empower the people who work for you day in day out.
Showing your support this International Women’s Day
As many women still face and experience the challenges around taking time off to be with their families, there are a number of things businesses can do to show their support, on International Women’s Day and but beyond.
Leading consultancy and accounting firm RSM Global, commented in a recent blog that “more flexible working arrangements across the board are…important” and that “shared parental leave can help, but it’s just as important for employers to embrace a combination of flexible working patterns and remote working technology to make their workplaces more inviting for women”.
If you’re business hasn’t embraced the benefits of paid parental leave yet, why not?