As Families Transform, Leaders Expand Leave Offerings

Attitudes to paternity leave, for example, are changing swiftly, according to human resources consultancy Mercer, which interviewed leaders from 1,500 companies worldwide about their leave policies.

The survey discovered that 42% of companies encouraged fathers to take at least two-to-five days off immediately following the birth of their child, while 14% said they were considering increasing the number of paternity leave days.

Whether or not fathers actually do take time off is another question, however. A report by Deloitte released in June found that more than a third of 1,000 male respondents feared that taking leave would jeopardize their position at work.

Recent laws allowing gay marriage across the U.S. and other countries such as Ireland, meanwhile, are also forcing companies to rethink their leave policies.

“42% of companies encouraged fathers to take at least two-to-five days off immediately following the birth of their child, while 14% said they were considering increasing the number of paternity leave days.”

Mercer found that more than a quarter of companies now provide adoption leave beyond what is required by law. And when asked how they handle adoption leave for same-sex couples, 87% said it’s handled in the same manner as opposite-sex couples.

“Adoption leave, like other leaves, helps employers accommodate more diverse family structures, which are now commonplace among their employee population,” said Ilya Bonic, head of Mercer’s talent business.

Other non-traditional benefits being offered by companies in the survey included parental leave for part-time employees, support programs for parents, time to recover from miscarriage and time away to care for sick or elderly relatives.

Around two-thirds of companies provided family care leave to employees to look after loved ones including children, spouses, parents, parents-in-law or siblings.

“More progressive companies are acknowledging that eldercare is as important as childcare, especially as the population ages and more working couples need to devote time to elderly family members,” Bonic said.

Tech giants such as Apple and Google dominated a recent Time magazine list of the world’s companies with the most generous parental leave policies, although non-tech companies including Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Johnson & Johnson also scored a mention.

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Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.

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