Currently, FMLA requires employers with at least 50 employees to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave after the birth of a child. Some companies take it one step further and provide a paid portion of leave, but it is typically biased towards the mother, with fathers being offered less, if any paid time off. This can translate to discrimination against women.
In her article discussing gender-neutral leave policies, Rachel Gillett (@RGillett23) points out that “studies have shown that when a company’s policy mandates that women take longer leaves than men, the same companies are more inclined to hire men over women and are less likely to promote women to high-powered positions.” If you ask me, this is detrimental to the growth and diversity that all companies need.
Personally, I did not want to ever get in a position where I had to choose between my career and starting a family, which was one huge motivating factor in working for myself.
Equal Parental Benefits: Pros
Gender-neutral leave policies help mitigate the discrimination against women by allowing them to feel secure in their decisions to take time off to bond with their babies. They no longer have to choose between promotions and raising a family. On the other hand, it alleviates fathers from feeling like they are expected to rush back to work before they are acclimated to the new challenges of the competing demands between fatherhood and work (which is something that mothers face all too often as well).
Employees will be less-stressed when returning to work if they have been provided ample time to adjust to the newness of parenthood. Being forced back to work too soon can cause resentment since parents deserve time off to bond and make memories with their children.
Equal Parental Benefits: Cons
The obvious con to offering additional time off in order to provide equal benefits, paid or unpaid, is ensuring coverage of duties while on leave. This is a great time to utilize cross-training among individuals (which is a highly-advisable process to incorporate, especially before you need the coverage). Another option is to hire temporary workers to fill in the gaps or work with an independent consultant for the interim.
Other than job coverage, you have nothing else to lose by offering gender-neutral benefits! You may think that it costs more to provide extra time off, but the cost-savings from reduced employee turnover due to more desirable benefits will likely surpass any added expense.