In a bid to subtly compete with big employers in the attraction and retention of talents, small companies can create suitable maternity leave benefits. The importance of maternity leave goes beyond satisfying the employees but crucial in building a great company culture.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires employers with over 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks leave for new and adoptive moms – a move to enable them to take adequate care of themselves and their new babies. However, what is largely obtainable from this law is unpaid leave. But a number of companies are willing to offer paid maternity leave to their employees regardless of the company size to improve workers benefits package.
Small employers won’t be able to offer fully paid maternity leave to their employees. In its place, they can come up with policies that ensure some benefits for new moms and new dads. It will make the employee feel valued and most likely loyal to the company for the long term.
Employers with more than 15 but less than 50 employees aren’t under any obligation by the FMLA to provide maternity leave benefits for their employees. However, they are expected to abide by the PDA (Pregnancy Discrimination Act).
The PDA states that no employer should discriminate against any employee on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. The implication is that any provisional benefit given to disabled employees, such as allowing them to work from home, should also be given to pregnant employees.
Under this Act, employers are careful of their very own precedent. If one mother is allowed by the employer to work flexibility, then the same allowance should be granted to other expectant or new mothers. Defaulting employers could risk being sued for discrimination.
In a study on the trends in maternity leave benefits the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that the number of companies that offer some form of paid maternity leave rose from about 46 percent to 58 percent between 2005 and 2016.
Alternatives to maternity leave benefits
Freedom from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows small employers to design personalized maternity leave programs suitable to them and the employees. They may choose to offer their employees two paid weeks and ten unpaid weeks. It will come with the promise of returning to the job when they return after the leave.
Employers who want to assist their employees financially can allow them to save vacation days to use it as their maternity leave. Other options include offering short-term disability plans through the benefits menu. This last option will ensure that health insurance replaces a certain percentage of an employee’s full-time salary.
Not recognizing FMLA should not give employers a room to completely deny their workers maternity leave benefits. The SHRM found that some businesses with less than 99 employees adopted some alternatives in making their employees feel valued. Some of the alternatives include giving room for a flexible or part-time return to work and allowing work-from-home arrangements.