Many of the country’s largest employers do not offer paid parental leave, according to a report from PL+US.
The nonprofit, which advocates for paid family and medical leave for all U.S. workers, said that only 13% of employees have access to such leave. And just 6% of low-wage workers do, says Forging Ahead or Falling Behind? Paid Family Leave at America’s Top Companies.
The organization said it asked the 60 largest companies in the U.S. to offer information about their paid leave policies. More than half did not share the requested information and, of those that did, half had what PL+US calls “discriminatory policies.”
The policies discriminate against fathers, adoptive parents, and low-wage workers, according to the report. Twenty-two of the 29 confirmed policies have unequal leave: fathers receive significantly less time than mothers and adoptive parents receive significantly less time than birth parents, the report says. “In many cases fathers and adoptive parents received no leave at all, which has far-reaching implications for LGBTQ parents as well. For example, Starbucks offers 6 [weeks’] maternity leave but no paternity leave.”
Low-wage employees also are left out, according to PL+US. Walmart, for example, said it provides paid leave only to salaried workers. And anecdotal evidence suggests that Walmart is not the only employer with this practice, PL+US said, calling for more research on that topic.
The group called Deloitte, Bank of America, and Ernst & Young the “standout leaders,” with 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. Most of U.S. top employers offer far less, if any, according to the report.
The report also says that a “paid leave arms race” is emerging. Companies are rushing to update and enhance their policies. Of the 29 companies that offered information, eight said they had updated their policies in the past year to provide longer and more inclusive leaves of absence. For example, Deloitte recently expanded its leave to be available for any type of family caregiving and Hilton extended its offerings to hourly workers.
A Call to Action
In the report, PL+US calls on businesses, particularly large ones, to help solve America’s “care crisis.” “Businesses need to support public policy that provides paid family leave for everyone working in the United States, and, in the meantime, they can lead the way by implementing their own policies now,” it said.
Industry leaders already have shown that inclusive paid family leave policies are beneficial not only to employees but also to the bottom line, the group said, citing improvements in retention at companies like Google. Google’s attrition rate for postpartum women was twice that for other employees; but when Google lengthened maternity leave to 5 months from 3, and changed it from partial pay to full pay, attrition decreased by 50%, according to the report.
“Major employers can plan a vital role in solving our caregiving crisis by implementing inclusive corporate policies now, and supporting public policy reform at the national level,” according to PL+US. “It’s time for workplace policies that work for all families.”