Seems like literally every day lately when I pick up a newspaper, a bold-face headline announces major increases in corporate family leave policy. MYBA’s primary mission may be advocating career breaks and sabbaticals. But coming in a close second is taking time for other what-matters-most opportunities. And frankly, does anything matter more than welcoming a new Earthling into the family? No.
Yet government statistics reveal that only 16% of US workers are granted paid leave for a new baby. Talk about mis-spent priorities amid an allegedly booming economy. Insert tantrum here, and please aim thrown baby food at your elected, crusty upper-crusters.
By their own accounting, five generations work at General Mills. So individual needs can vary dramatically, yet every employee is likely to need time to tend to a sick or aging family member—if not a new baby. Thus GM has made leave policy expansions that include bereavement, disability, and more, while new parents will get 12 weeks paid time off. New birth mothers will receive 6-8 additional weeks.
That generous, yes! But it’s also just plain smart; GM admits they’d fallen behind other large food companies. And when you employ 40,000 people (and must please countless shareholders), talent recruiting and retention are the best path to profits.
- Microsoft to require contractors to offer paid parental leave
Tech firms may be the most lavish (and well-heeled) when it comes to leave benefits. But MSFT is about to set a new standard—and not just for tech freelancers, but everyone who contracts with the firm, including cafeteria workers and janitors. MSFT already mandates that contractors provide vacation and paid sick days.
The state of Washington and a small number of states have created an employer- and employee-funded tax that allows new parents to dip into those piggy banks for family time off. The other Washington—as in DC—remains pathetically hands-off about baby care and many other perks real people need. (Drain the swamp, indeed.)
- Sweden and Scandinavia: Nurturing off the charts
The progress gradually happening in corporate America warrants a standing (or resting) ovation. But lest we get carried away, a travel article about Stockholm I read today featured a Swede casually mentioning that new parents there get up to 480 days of paid leave—plus a monthly child allowance paid by the government.
Will the US of A ever get there? Of course not—let’s not get piggish! But meantime, we’ll be grateful for (dare I say) baby steps.