In our current environment of wage freezes and increased health care costs, one of the features that can distinguish a good company from a great company is the fringe benefits you receive.
While your wages may remain stagnant, fringe benefits can provide substantial bonuses and savings for your bottom line.
Unfortunately, one benefit that few companies have is a comprehensive family leave plan.
Of course, back in 1993, President Clinton signed into law the Family Medical Leave Act. This act allows a new parent (either biologically or through adoption) as well as those with sick family members to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave from their job within a 12 month period. The employee is able to retain health care benefits, and they cannot lose their job.
However, not all companies have to follow the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) such as those with less than 50 employees. Likewise, if the employee seeking to take FMLA has not worked for the company for at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours in the past 12 months, the company does not have to grant the employee leave.
With these contingencies on FMLA, many, many employees fall through the cracks and find themselves back at work less than a week after they have a baby because they do not qualify for FMLA or they cannot afford to take an unpaid leave.
However, there are some companies as well as states that go above and beyond and offer their employees or residents better FMLA benefits than required by federal law.
As a working parent, these are the companies that you want to work for or states you want to live in.
Top 4 Companies to Work for With Great FMLA Benefits
If you work for one of these companies, you can benefit from generous leave programs that help you manage work and parenting. Working Mother breaks down the many benefits these companies offer parents.
Deloitte, a professional services firm, shows they care about their employees by offering a number of benefits for new parents as well as those who are trying to become parents.
Mothers on average take 14 weeks paid maternity leave. While fathers and adoptive parents take an average of 8 weeks paid leave.
For those trying to conceive, Deloitte offers up to $25,000 in fertility treatments. If an employee instead decides to adopt, Deloitte will cover up to $5,000 in adoption costs.
In addition, the company subsidizes up to 30 days of backup child care annually and also offers sick child care.
Best of all, 71% of Deloitte’s employees use flex time and telecommute.
EY (Ernst & Young Global Limited) is interested in retaining working mothers. Moms can take up to 22 weeks leave (with most taking an average of 14 weeks paid leave), and before they go, they work with coaches to discuss how to meet employee and business expectations and smoothly return to work after the leave is over.
Fathers and adoptive parents average 6 weeks paid leave.
Like Deloitte, EY offers back up and sick child care.
A full 95% of employees use flex time and telecommute.
KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory service, offers a very flexible schedule for working parents. 100% of the employees take advantage of flex time. “Partner Theresa Ahlstrom worked 60% to 85% of a standard schedule for four years after adopting a child, and ended up with a big promotion” (Working Mother).
Mothers average 9 weeks full paid maternity leave, while fathers average 2 weeks of paternity leave. Adoptive primary care givers average 6 weeks full paid leave.
Like the other companies, KPMG offers both back up and sick child care.
Prudential Financial’s best perk is that it offers a generous amount of leave. Women can take up to 26 weeks off for maternity leave with 9 of those weeks partially paid. The leave is job guaranteed. In addition, women can accrue 21 to 36 days paid leave a year which can be used to supplement time off.
On average, maternity leave averages 5 weeks paid. Paternity leave averages 2 weeks paid. While adoptive parents take an average 11 weeks off, they are fully paid for 2 of those weeks. They are also eligible for $10,000 in adoption expenses.
Back up child care and sick child care are available.
Ninety percent of employees use flex time and 79% telecommute.
Best States for Paternity Leave
Of course, not everyone can work for the best companies that offer generous leave and flexible schedules. In that case, you’ll want to pay special attention to states that offer more for parent workers than just the standard FMLA requires.
Under FMLA, new fathers are eligible for 12 weeks unpaid paternity leave within a 12 month period. However, these states go above and beyond that requirement, according to Dads Expect Better.
District of Columbia
Ranked as number one for paternity benefits, the DC family medical leave act is a requirement for companies that have 20 or more employees, which is much lower than the 50 or more employees FMLA requires. In addition, new dads are allowed to take 16 weeks off over 24 months, instead of 12 weeks within the first 12 months as FMLA allows.
Like DC, parents can take 16 weeks off over 24 months. In addition, because Connecticut recognizes same sex marriages, the term “family” includes both partners, and both have access to paternity leaves.
Like Conneticut, New Jersey’s definition of family includes same sex partners. In addition, workers are allowed 12 weeks off over 24 months. The state allows 6 weeks of paid leave that can be taken by either spouse. However, one drawback is that a worker’s job is not guaranteed when taking paid family leave.
This state has all the same provisions in place as New Jersey. However, workers can also use up to half of their paid sick leave to care for a sick child or spouse, which includes a spouse who is having pregnancy related complications.
Best States for Maternity Leave
The four best states for paternity leave are also best for maternity leave with one exception.
The same paternity benefits stated above apply for maternity benefits. In addition, “pregnant women are eligible for up to four months of job-protected leave to address a pregnancy-related health condition” (Expecting Better).
Once again, the same paternity benefits stated above apply to maternity benefits. Also, “workers disabled by pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions also have protections under Connecticut anti-discrimination law. Pregnant women are eligible for a ‘reasonable’ period of leave to address a pregnancy-related health condition. The law applies to workers in businesses with three or more employees” (Expecting Better).
District of Columbia
Like California and Conneticut, “women with a pregnancy-related disability are eligible for up to 16 weeks of medical leave; this leave is in addition to any period of leave taken to care for a new child” (Expecting Better).
If you work in the private sector in Illinois, you have no additional rights beyond the FMLA. However, if you work in the public sector, you are allowed 4 weeks of paid parental leave that can be used by either parent. In addition, workers can take up to one year off to care for a new child.
Why Is Family Leave So Important?
We live in a world where “71% of children live in households where all parents work” (Expecting Better). Without a supportive work environment that cares about the needs of parents to also care for their families, both parents and children can suffer.
Long gone are the days where dad is the sole breadwinner and mom stays home to raise the kids. Our work environments need to keep pace, not just for the individual families, but for our society as well.
For instance, “mothers who used the state paid family leave program breastfed for twice as long as mothers who did not use the program” (Expecting Better).
Why is that important to society?
Breastfed babies have many health advantages over those who were not breastfed. “Research demonstrates that breastfeeding lowers the risk of childhood health concerns — such as infections, diarrhea, SIDS, obesity, diabetes, asthma and leukemia — and it lowers the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers” (Expecting Better).
Family leave, though, isn’t just important to mothers. It’s also important to fathers.
By allowing fathers to have time off with their newborn, the family unit is strengthened. “When fathers take leave after a child’s birth, they are more likely to be involved in the direct care of their children long term. One longitudinal study of U.S. families shows that fathers who took two or more weeks off after the birth of their children were involved in the direct care of their children at higher rates nine months later than fathers who took no leave” (Dads Expect Better).
The more involved dad is with his family, the less likely he is to leave, which benefits the family as well as society because children, especially boys, need a male role model. In addition, women who get divorced are more likely to live in poverty, as are their children.
Family leave is definitely an important part of having a healthy life. I wonder if the benefits offered by companies based in Europe for those working the US are any better than US based companies. In general, Europe is more sensitive to the importance of family leave, so perhaps it would make a difference when they hire people in the US.