Paid Parental Leaves: Call of the New Decade!

Paid Parental Leaves: Call of the New Decade!

While the first quarter of 2021 saw most countries ease their COVID-19 restrictions somewhat, the impact of the second wave is threatening all those relaxations.

So, what does this mean for working parents, especially the new ones? With WFH becoming a way of life, work-life balance has been altered. Such times call for establishing flexible guidelines that help serve both the organisational needs as well as employees’ needs.

Paid parental leave is one such important policy decision businesses must take on priority. But the current reality is that diverse industries have inconsistent parental leave policies. In fact, some companies don’t offer these policies at all.

Another drawback of most parental leave policies is that they are framed from the perspective of women. In contrast, a truly gender-neutral workplace will boast of both paternity and maternity leave policies.

Here is a deep dive into the true power of a solid parental leave policy and how it can be a win-win for both organisations and newly turned working parents, regardless of gender.

Need for Paid Parental Leaves in 2021

Although as many as 97% of countries have made paid maternity leave mandatory, only 115 countries legally guarantee 14 weeks or more of paid leave for mothers. The state of paternity leave is much more acute, with only about half of those countries giving time off to allow new fathers to cope with the additional responsibilities. The core reason behind this is the cultural bias associated with gender-specific roles of women being primary caregivers and men being the breadwinners.

However, there is a changing cultural context around paternity leave in recent years which has given rise to the concept of ‘Parental’ leaves, replacing the more discriminatory policies of ‘maternity’ or ‘paternity’ leave.

Here’s why paid parental leave is a sign of a progressive work environment for all stakeholders:

1. Better Job Security for Women

Gender equality has been the talk of the boardrooms for quite some time and has surely had a positive impact overall. Yet, there is a stigma associated with maternity leave which can not only have an adverse effect on women’s careers but also lead to insecurities regarding their jobs.

Women returning to work are often last in line to be considered for promotions, which ultimately has a bearing on their wages. By having a parental policy in place, the gender gap comes to a close as men can equally participate in taking care of the newborn and opting for paid leave.

2. Better Work-life Balance for Men

Paid leave or not, it is important to address the myth surrounding the role of men as being the sole breadwinners, even after becoming a father.

Today, men are increasingly taking up parenting responsibilities, casting aside old stereotypes. Naturally, they too experience the same difficulties as women, such as managing work and children simultaneously.

They also encounter wavering productivity issues as they struggle to find time for the job and family. A balanced parental policy ensures that both parents can equally share their responsibilities. It should address the struggles of not just working mothers but working fathers as well.

3. Better Retention Rates:

When Google increased their parental leave policy from 12 weeks to 18 weeks in 2007, there was a 50% increase in the retention rates of women post-maternity leave. This makes for a strong case in favour of adopting a broad-based parental leave policy.

Not just this, it has also been proven to attract better talent. Ernst & Young’s Global Generational Survey conducted in 2017 shadowed a positive sentiment that was geared in favour of parental policies, wherein 83% of millennials said that they would join a company that offered paid parental leave benefits.

4. Better Productivity:

Studies have shown that men who took paid parental leaves to spend time with their newborns returned to work feeling happy and fulfilled. A recent study conducted in 2018 found that 60% of men found childcare hours ‘very meaningful’. In other words, an organisation’s parental leave policy works like a long-term investment in its employees.

As their families grow, employees appreciate working with human-oriented companies who take the effort to incorporate their employees’ personal well-being into the core work policies. Thus, a productive workforce is the by-product of a good parental leave policy.

5. Better Health:

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a maternity leave of 14 to 17 weeks for the better health of both, mother and infant. There are positive studies associated with adequate maternity leaves in terms of lower infant mortality rates, better health for the mother, increased female participation in the workforce as well as increased breastfeeding rates.

On the other hand, paternity leaves too have been shown to result in improved development outcomes such as equal distribution of household work, better bonding with the child, better health and increased earnings for the mother.

How to Create an Inclusive Parental Leave Policy


Here are some suggestions that HR executives can take a cue from while they sit down to carve out a parental leave policy for their expectant and new employees:

1. Cost-benefit analysis:

Parental paid leave can seem to be an expensive proposition from the productivity standpoint. However, avoiding the same can prove to be equally expensive as organisations tend to waste resources on hiring talent to replace those that may not be able to fill in the shoes of their predecessors. On the contrary, a paid parental leave policy gives enough reasons to the existing employees to stay loyal to the organisation in the future.

2. Plan in Advance:

HR needs to arrange for a backup when their employees go on parental leaves. They need to plan in advance regarding who will be covering what projects and tasks to avoid any setbacks that may arise in the absence of the employees.

3. Stay Consistent:

Just making promises is not enough. It is also important to walk the talk and stay consistent with the leave policies, both for new as well as current employees.

4. Encourage Employee Feedback:

With parenting becoming a gender-less role, corporates are realising the positive effects of having a well-rounded parental leave policy in place. Moreover, implementing such a uniform policy gives a clear signal to the existing and potential employees that the organisation is seriously invested in their personal well-being. 

Nothing can be better when it comes to making employees feel like their voice is being heard by the organisation, especially when making policies that directly affect them. Allow them to be vocal about their problems and listen to their suggestions before zeroing down on a policy that works for everyone.

With parenting becoming a gender-less role, corporates are realising the positive effects of having a well-rounded parental leave policy in place. Moreover, implementing such a uniform policy gives a clear signal to the existing and potential employees that the organisation is seriously invested in their personal well-being.

Paid parental leave policies also make sense on a business level, ultimately adding to the bottom line. It is safe to say that it is a win-win situation for both employers and employees, which could comprise of new parents, soon-to-be parents or even millennials!


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