Paid parental leave: Pros and cons

Updated September 2020

Large corporations, including Netflix and Microsoft, have announced extended paid parental leave policies for employees. While new parents can receive up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, many companies are now weighing the advantages and disadvantages of offering such a benefit for workers. Adopting a similar policy would be a large step for businesses and their human resources teams. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:

Pro: Helps retain valuable employees
Flexibility is important to worker retention, according to a CareerBuilder study. Fifty-one percent of people polled felt that versatile work schedules are the most important factor in whether they stay with their company or not.

Businesses have started to offer more flexible benefits as a way to entice new employees and keep current workers on staff for longer periods of time. Paid parental leave is one example of a perk companies are starting to consider for this exact reason. Extending this benefit to parents makes workers feel valued by their employer, increasing their satisfaction with the overall company. As a result, workers may opt to stay with a business to avoid losing this perk, among others. Work/life balance is a strong concern for employees today and a flexible parental leave policy enables workers to handle both elements with additional support from their employer.

Con: May rub employees with disabilities the wrong way
The FMLA and Americans with Disabilities Act can intersect in the workplace for employers with 50 or more workers. Employees can take unpaid leave under the FMLA for a “serious health condition,” while the ADA covers those workers whose condition meets the definition of a disability, according to the Department of Labor. Although the ADA doesn’t specifically require employers to provide disability leave, it does demand that companies make reasonable accommodations for workers with disabilities. These modifications could include alterations to work schedules, such as leave.

Employees with disabilities could argue the same treatment should be applied to their own leave policy for things like medical care and recovery. HR teams will have to assess how implementing a paid parental leave policy would impact other employees and the company’s existing leave procedures.

Pro: Attracts millennials
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are the largest generation in the workforce in 2015. Men and women of Generation Y see flexibility in the workplace as an enticing factor in their search for a job. A study by Elance oDesk found that 66 percent of millennials polled cited flexible working times as an attractive characteristic, while 56 percent stated versatile working location was an enticing factor.

Furthermore, more and more millennials are starting their own families. On top of that, both partners are expected to continue working while raising children, an Ernst and Young study reported.

An extended paid parental leave policy, especially one that is paid, is especially attractive to this generation. With this benefit, members of Generation Y can devote time to family, while also maintaining control over work-related responsibilities. The perk can help attract and retain millennials to a company.

Con: Non-parents may be upset
Similar to employees with disabilities, workers without children may see a paid parental leave benefit as something that is being unfairly denied to them. The issue could be disruptive to the overall morale in the workplace, as well as employee satisfaction.

As an alternative to paid parental leave policies and to make leave fair for all employees, some companies have instituted an unlimited vacation benefit. That way, parents can use vacation time for familial duties and non-parents also have the option to take additional time off.

Next steps for HR
Implementing an extended or paid parental leave policy is a voluntary benefit employers can offer. HR should weigh the pros and cons of the perk and gather employee insight on the option. Asking for feedback prior to instituting such a policy will help businesses avoid disruptions regarding the fairness of the benefit in the future.

HR should also consider how a paid parental leave policy will impact existing company procedures and employee morale. While the benefit is a strong attraction and retention tool for businesses, it is important that the perk is extended fairly.

Triton Benefits & HR Solutions’ Approach to HR

Triton Benefits & HR Solutions can work with the HR professional of your organization directly to implement a paid parental leave policy. We can work together to weigh out all the pros and cons and implement a policy that will benefit everyone within the organization. Outsource your HR challenges to us and we can provide support for the following:

  • Employee Retention
  • Strategic Planning
  • HR Generalist
  • Employee Handbooks

Please fill out our request form and a Triton HR representative will contact you within one business day or if you have an immediate need, please call us at 1-877-OKTRITON.

Get An Instant
Group Health Insurance Quote!

See Live Rates That Can Save You On Premiums