Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Is Your Parental Leave Policy Up to Date?

Obviously you want to take good care of your employees, and sometimes that means giving them time away from the office. And as an employer, this can be a difficult balance to strike: you hired your employees for a reason -- to work -- but if they're not happy, they won't be working for you for long.

For the most part, federal labor laws strike the balance for you -- most workers are limited to 40 hours per week unless they're paid overtime. But the feds don't have a lot to say about parental leave, especially paid parental leave, and states and cities have recently stepped into the void. So it may be time to re-examine your parental leave policy.

Legal Leave

The Family Medical Leave Act entitles eligible employees take up to 12 months of unpaid, job-protected leave for a newborn child, adoption, or a child's medical condition per year. While employers are free to offer additional benefits like more time or paid time off, the FMLA sets the floor for covered employers.

Some states have also taken it upon themselves to provide more or paid parental leave. California, Washington, and New York have all updated their family leave laws in recent years, including more paid time off for new parents. Some cities as well have been expanding statutory protections for family leave.

Parental Policies

As mentioned above, city, state, and federal law will merely set the minimum required leave for parents, and you are free to provide more benefits to entice the best employees and show them your appreciation. And, like we said as well, figuring out the best parental leave policy for your small business can be a challenge.

While bigger corporations like Spotify and Yahoo have begun to offer expanded parental leave benefits to recruit and retain talented employees, small businesses could be stifled losing a key employee for six months or more. Balancing the law and your corporate culture could require the help of an experienced employment law attorney -- contact one today.

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