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Parental Leave and The Zuckerbergs

Marissa Malone
Wed, Dec 9, 2015

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Less than one week old and there’s no surprise the Zuckerberg heiress, Maxima, is already influencing workplace expectations.

In today’s workplace millennial employees have pushed boundaries to gain support of a better work-life balance - including shared parenting responsibilities. By 2020, 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennial movers and shakers. As a pioneers of the millennial generation, Mark Zuckerberg’s support and participation in Facebook’s parental leave policy has sparked critical conversations across industries. 

So, what makes an employees eligible for parental leave? Any employee who is a parent,  whether married or not, to a new born biological child, adopted child, or foster child.  

As it stands, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) requires companies with more than 50 employees to offer 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees. For many, this seems like a fair deal - ‘the company is covering my insurance in my absence and I get my job back when I come back!'

The unfortunate reality remains - the United States is the only developed country to not offer paid time off to new mothers. In a recent Huffington Post survey, 69% of Americans believe companies should be obligated to offer paid maternity leave. Today in 2015, only 21% of employers offer some type of paid maternity leave.

 But what about the dads? In another survey, 50% of Americans believe companies should be obligated to offer paid time off to new fathers, but according to SHRM, only 17% of all companies in 2015 offered paid paternity leave.

There has to be benefits to offering paid parental leave – or else no companies would be offering it. So, what are the benefits of paid parental leave?

Improve gender inequality in pay. There will be less discrimination with women in the hiring process. There would be just as great of a chance for men to request paid leave for caregiving as women. 

Greater opportunities for women to hold leadership positions. With increasingly shared parenting responsibilities, women are more likely to return to their current role and hold leadership roles.

Your company will be more attractive. This policy will help companies attract new employees as the millennial generation continues to see paid parental leave as an important benefit.

Improve father-child relationships. More time early on will allow fathers to develop a deeper relationship with their children and family, which is proven to increase the overall well being of all family members. 

The most effective companies preemptively recognize employee’s pain points and companies such as Facebook, Spotify, and Netflix are setting a new standard for parental leave and other workplace functions. It’s critical to have support from company executives across demographics in order for these innovative programs to achieve maximum success.

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