Why Family-Friendly Policies Are Important to Employees & Employers

While government mandates are lagging, companies in the U.S. are finally catching up with the importance of offering family-friendly benefits.

Other than rare exceptions, like the need to keep factories operating with Rosie the Riveters during World War II, women didn’t really account for much of the workforce until the 1960s. By the 1970s, 40 to 50 percent of women worked outside of the home. Although working women were (and are) great for the economy, there is no getting around the biological fact that women are also the ones bearing children.

Recognizing that working women were a necessary part of the economy, the government enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) in 1993. The law required employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave for men and women to care for a child or family member. While the FMLA did provide some job security, losing three-months of pay could pose a financial burden on many families. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that one in four women go back to work within 10 days of giving birth.

Luckily, Businesses in the U.S. are Stepping Up.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that does not mandate paid maternity leave. A handful of states require paid leave, and there has been talk about expanding the FLMA, but as of this writing, there has been no improvement in federally mandated family leave for almost 30 years. However, the corporate world is stepping up.

A great example is the CertainTeed Paid Parental Leave policy. CertainTeed has always been known as a manufacturer that values its employees and offers superior benefits. Their enhanced maternity/paternity policy, which is available to both mothers and fathers, provides eligible employees a total of 20-weeks of paid parental leave. The benefit can be taken before the child’s arrival or within 12 months of the qualifying event. Additionally, up to two weeks of the leave can be used non-concurrently in one-day increments. The policy covers both births and adoptions.

While the value of paid paternity leave is evident for the employee, employers also benefit from the policy. Paid maternity/paternity leave can improve morale, and good morale typically enhances productivity. Paid family leave can also aid in reducing the high cost of employee turnover, which in turn, saves the cost of training new hires. This type of policy can also help recruit top talent, which is highly relevant to the building industry as the skilled labor shortage has permeated throughout the trades.

Other Important Family-Friendly Policies to Consider
There is little doubt that paid paternity makes a significant impact on employees, but other policies can help employees balance parenthood with a career. Another excellent policy that CertainTeed provides is scheduling flexibility. Employees can choose to extend the hours of their workday in exchange for working fewer days per week – another option is the ability to work remotely from home when needed. This type of policy makes it a great deal easier for employees to fulfill both job and parent-related responsibilities.

Daycare assistance is another tangible benefit that can be provided. Larger companies may consider an onsite facility. If it is not practical to operate a childcare center on-premises, subsidizing the cost of daycare or even providing program referrals for low-cost daycare facilities can go a long way.

Not every company will be in a financial position to offer paid maternity leave or subsidized daycare. Nor may it be feasible to provide flex schedules or remote work. But small gestures can make a big difference. Something as simple as hosting a kid-friendly get-together every few months or allowing employees to bring a child into the office for a day will be great for morale and employee retention.
Do What is Right for Your Company
Each business will have to determine the type of benefits they are able to offer. Small companies may even consider asking employees what perks they feel will help them lead a happy lifestyle. What ultimately matters are that employees know their employer values them and respects the need to maintain a healthy work-life balance.