As there is no federal mandate for employers to provide paid time off for new parents, employers that offer generous paid parental-leave policies have an edge when it comes to keeping workers happy and on the job. The benefit also is a factor when it comes to recruiting talent: New hires looking to plan their families often consider a parental-leave policy or benefits as a reason to join a company. Jill Penrose, senior vice president of human resources and corporate communications at the J.M. Smucker Co., for instance, says the company’s new 12-week paid-leave policy for all employees following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child helps employees and the company at large. Not only does the policy promote work/life integration and “is right thing to do for our people,” she says, the benefit “will be beneficial for our business, as [it] will allow employees to better focus on their professional responsibilities and continued development when they return to work.”
The benefit does carry an expense with it–losing workers for an extended amount of time. But many experts say the cost is a smart investment. In addition to helping employees, providing paid leave can benefit employers by boosting morale, productivity and loyalty.