Dealing with Outdated Family Leave Policies

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By EmployDiversity

To find and keep the best talent, companies are constantly trying to differentiate themselves. One new benefit that progressive companies have been rolling out is generous parental leave. Paid parental leave and other policies that support employees and their families are considered a competitive edge for employers that are trying to recruit top talent and increase employee engagement.

The need for more inclusive parental leave policies has stemmed from the old-fashioned policies that are, unfortunately, typical of many employers. The most common issue with these policies is that they only offer paid leave for “primary caregivers”. These policies assume that families only have one primary caregiver and that the spouse or partner contributes little to these activities.  In many families, this is very untrue.

The worst of the old-fashioned policies are not even gender neutral. Some state that the birth mother is assumed to be the primary caregiver and that the leave benefit is only extended to birth mothers or primary caregivers in cases of adoption and surrogacy. Parental leave needs to be equally available to everyone – all genders and all types of caregivers.

There are a couple of important tips for companies looking to improve their parental leave practices:

  1. If you’re thinking about revising your parental leave policy, just do it. If you’re uncomfortable with a full policy overhaul, make incremental changes. This shows that you’re committed to the change and supporting all of your employees equally. You’ll be able to make small iterations to improve the policy over time and perfect it to meet the needs of your organization.

  2. Ask for input. Seek feedback from employees who have been marginalized by the old parental leave policy. This could be male employees or LGBTQ employees. These employees can bring your attention to issues that you might not have considered. Getting their input can help make the policy more inclusive and relevant to your workforce.

Paid parental leave that is inclusive of all caregivers can make a big impact on recruitment and retention efforts. When a company is generous and inclusive with its parental leave practices it sends a strong message to employees. It communicates to employees that they are valued and that the company is committed to them and to improving the inclusiveness and diversity of the workplace.

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