Survey: Defending the Family and Parental Leave

[Note: there’s a link to a survey at the end. But if you don’t want to wade through the post first, you can access the survey here.]

I’d been practicing law for about a year when my first daughter was born; when she was born, my law firm offered one week of paid paternity leave. A couple years later, when my second was born, it had upped its paid paternity leave to four weeks.[fn1] (It offers 18 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers, and up to another 18 weeks of unpaid leave.) 

In Conference in 2011, Elder Cook described one of his aspirations for members of the church:

I would hope that Latter-day Saints would be at the forefront in creating an environment in the workplace that is more receptive and accommodating to both women and men in their responsibilities as parents.

Two years later, he talked about a discussion he had in his legal practice. A colleague mentioned to him that she felt she was juggling her work, her children, and her marriage, and wasn’t entirely sure she could do it successfully. As a result, after discussing her experience with other attorneys at his firm,

[w]e decided that our goal would be a family-friendly environment for both women and men. Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family.

Almost everybody agrees that parental leave is good for children, good for parents, good for families, and even good for employers.[fn2] And yet the United States is at the very bottom of the OECD in terms of federally-mandated paid parental leave, and at or toward the bottom for protected parental leave.[fn3] U.S. federal law requires employers with 50 or more employees to offer a minimum of 12 weeks of parental, and none of it has to be paid.

The FMLA just provides a lower bound, though. I’m curious how the employers of bloggernacle readers stack up. So I’ve put together a survey to find out how much maternity and paternity leave various employers offer.

A couple caveats and requests: first, and most importantly, this is not scientific. I’m not going to get a random sample, and my answers won’t show anything statistically significant about the state of parental leave. Rather, it’ll give us some anecdotes. But they’ll be interesting anecdotes.

Second, the data won’t necessarily be reliable. I sincerely hope that those of you who participate will be honest, because it’s a lot more interesting that way. But your responses will be anonymous, and, for the most part, I won’t have any way to fact-check them.

That said, I’m going to make charts anyways. Because charts are fun.

Also, I’m looking for the policies for full-time employees, the type of people who, in the U.S., get W-2s from their employers.

Thanks!

Survey available here.

[fn1] Willkie still offers a generous 4 weeks of paid leave to secondary care providers. In fact, law firms seem to be among those industries at the forefront (in the United States, at least) of parental leave: a friend’s law firm offers 10 weeks of paid paternity leave.

[fn2] See, e.g., herehere, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[fn3] Actually, I can’t necessarily say that: the data didn’t include Chile, for some reason, so we may be second-to-last.

Comments

  1. When my husband was a medical resident (Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical Center), he got one week of paternity leave. He got the same week, covered informally by his fellow radiologists, once he joined a small (8 physicians) private practice in the midwest.

  2. Both of those were paid leave, unpaid time off was not really considered an option, but I’m sure there must be some provision for it.

  3. My daughter was born while I was working for the most LDS company anywhere that isn’t owned by the Corporation of the President… The sort of place with a formal three-year sabbatical program for mission presidents. The day she was born, I stopped in to let my boss know that the baby was here, and I’d be taking the two weeks vacation I’d saved up for the event. I was pulled into the CEO’s office, handed a laptop, and I ended up doing a complete company reorganization from the hospital room. Lost the vacation time at the end of the year, six weeks later.

  4. Clark Goble says:

    I love the idea of paternity and generous maternity leave, but not all companies are set up to be able to do that sort of thing. I don’t mean that they should be able to, but with a small business some positions are pretty major. I remember having to do work while on oxygen from a hospital bed barely able to function not because people wanted me to but because there was no other choice. Now at least with pregnancy you have a fair bit of warning when things are coming up so you can give people all the information they need and prepare. But again, how generous the company can be really depends upon how redundant your job is within the organization.

    Consider a small business with one salesperson. Taking a nice generous leave like Sweden gives might put the business out of business.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t make adjustments. I was lucky that I was able to take nearly a month off my wife final month of pregnancy when she was put on bed rest with three other kids needing care. Most aren’t that lucky and the stresses that result can be tremendous. I’m just saying that sometimes it’s a tad more complex than it appears.

    Of course mandating significant leave by the government doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions should you choose to take advantage of such leave. If someone takes over your job function, will you get the same position back? We all read about some of the fairly horrific treatment at Amazon recently, but I suspect that type of cutthroat competition is more common than we think.

    I also wonder how us Mormons with typically far more children than other people (who have typically one or at most two) would be viewed as well. If you’re taking disruptive leave number 5, how will your co-workers react?

  5. Clark, if your point is the viability of family leave depends, in part, on employer size, I tend to agree. FMLA does, too, pretty much just covering municipal employers and employers with 50+ employees. And I didn’t put a box for company size, but by and large, I can tell from the other answers.

    So I totally agree that the actual policy implications are more complex than just, Give a lot of time off. But here, I’m just gathering (anecdotal) data—I figure that’s probably a good first step.

  6. It goes without saying that a parental leave policy would need to do more than specify a period of time off. In my jurisdiction where (paid) parental leave is a statutory benefit, for example, employers receive subsidies to help pay for it (though as always, the self-employed are left to fend for themselves), so even small businesses can afford to comply. Also, once these kinds of leave policies are ingrained in the labor market, repercussions tend to be few and far between.

  7. Great post! I practice employment law in Texas. I am curious to see the results of this survey. But if you break it down by laws protecting new families, rather than by employer’s individual policies, it shows we can do a much better job.

    The National Partnership for Women and Families has done a state by state analysis of laws that help new parents. Utah and Idaho got an “F.” Neither has much in the way of state law protection to help new parents.

    California, the liberal state, received the highest score (“A-“). California has laws expanding FMLA, granting new parents paid maternity leave, protection for pregnancy related disabilities, and grant additional workplace rights for nursing mothers. None of which are present in Utah or Idaho.

    I know a lot of this has to do with political ideology. Generally, the more liberal the state, the more workplace protections new families have. But still, the two states with the highest % of LDS population (Utah and Idaho) could do a lot better to protect new parents. Even conservative Texas does a better job providing workplace laws friendly to new parents.

  8. Interesting to me that paid leave would be heartily supported by lds community when the ERA was not. Changing times?. Hope so….

  9. I don’t know the precise limits, so I’m not filling out the survey, but BYU Provo gives my professor wife a full semester (4 months) off, fully paid, as well as delaying advancement requirements. Slam dunk for the church on being progressive on women’s and family issues. I don’t know if this is just her department though.

  10. I live in Utah and work for a Utah based company of just over 50 employees. I just had a baby 2 months ago. I got no paid maternity leave, I did receive 60% of my pay for 4 weeks due to a short term disability insurance plan that I pay for. My husband also works for a Utah based company of about 100 employees and he got no paid paternity leave. The owners of both of our companies are LDS.
    I think LDS are often less likely to support family friendly policies in the work place because many of them believe that all child care should be done by women (thus men don’t need paternity leave) and those women should not work outside of the home (thus women don’t need maternity leave).

  11. Anonynony: that’s definitely an anomaly. BYU’s official policy is to grant just the 12 weeks of unpaid FMLA (Google “byu FMLA,” and it will pull up the relevant page).

    I can confirm that the policy of the Corporation of the President is the same–12 weeks unpaid. The Church as an employer is indisputably NOT “progressive on women’s and family issues.” I love those quotes from Elder Cook but wish that we would take the beam out of our own eye.

  12. My employer offers eight weeks of paid ‘bonding leave’ for new parents – it must be taken as a single chunk of time within a year of the child’s birth. This has been a blessing for many of my foreign-born co-workers, who can take extended leave to visit family etc., as well as a co-worker and ward member whose child required surgery shortly after being born. We are a large organization and can typically manage these sorts of absences with little disruption to business overall.

  13. N. W. Clerk says:

    StickyNote: What Anonynony cites is BYU’s official policy for faculty, from which I now quote: “When a full-time faculty member who has Continuing Faculty Status (CFS), or is on-track for CFS, becomes the parent of a child, either by childbirth or by adoption of a child as defined by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), that faculty member usually will qualify for a parental leave of one semester for the purpose of serving as the child’s primary caregiver (“semester” is interchangeable with the combined “spring/summer terms”). . . . A faculty member who takes parental leave shall receive the same salary and benefits that she or he would have received if not on parental leave.”

  14. Also notable is that BYU–I’s policy does not match BYU’s. BYU does indeed offer a full semester of paid leave for a new parent (a fairly new policy, I think), but BYU–I still only offers a full semester of unpaid leave. BYU–I recently sent faculty members a survey asking what they thought was an appropriate amount of time off for a faculty member who qualifies for maternity leave: (a) 1 week paid leave, (b) 2 weeks paid leave, (c) 4 weeks paid leave, or (d) 6 weeks paid leave. Those were the only options listed outside of a write-in response, where I wrote “a full semester.”

  15. My public university employer offers legally required unpaid job-protected leave (federal FMLA and the state’s own family protected leave law) that you can pair with any saved sick and/or vacation pay accruals (for any parent – e.g., birth parent, co-parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, individual who stood in loco parentis) and disability insurance (60% pay, insurance premiums paid by employees, only available to a parent who gave birth, available in short-term 12 weeks and long-term another 12 weeks).

    Disability insurance generally only kicks in if you are not pregnant at the time you enroll (so new pregnant employees wouldn’t have that option).

    Only FMLA protected leaves and/or those covered by sick/vacation accruals keep the employer-paid healthcare premiums. Otherwise, you have to use COBRA.

    Tenure-track faculty members can have their tenure clocks adjusted. Different classes of employees also have access to apply for various hardship leaves – unpaid and paid, some contractually required and others at the discretion of the university and all requiring the employee to use up their other paid leave options (e.g. sick and vacation pay) before any hardship leave may be granted.

    FMLA is a rolling calendar year, so if a parent used any FMLA leave prior to the birth/adoption (e.g., for prenatal medical appointments, bed rest, other non-pregnancy related medical leave), they may not have a full 12 weeks of FMLA protected leave available after a child arrives. However, the state family medical leave will kick in but it doesn’t require the employer to pay the health insurance premium and thus COBRA expenses kick in.

  16. Clark Goble says:

    Sam (1:41) I’m not even sure it’s a function of corporate size so much as redundancy of position. Even within some large companies some positions don’t exactly have a lot of backup. I suppose some might see that as an inherent problem with how we structure corporations. Should any one individual be that crucial for the success of a company? And those who are in those positions, aren’t they sacrificing something crucial about life? (Here thinking of the stories of people in many large tech companies)

    I really don’t know what to think.

    The other worry you didn’t mention is the danger of bias against women if there are such used policies. (Of course, as we saw with Amazon, a corporate culture can have a de facto penalty ascribed to using such services)

  17. Clark, forgive me if I’m largely skeptical of your proposition that redundancy is the thing that allows parental leave. I mean, I’m sure it’s helpful, but it’s neither necessary nor sufficient.

    It can’t be necessary, because the same industries that exist in states that only have the FMLA protection also exist in California, which provides for much longer available leave. And the same industries exist in Europe, which mocks both the length and the unpaid nature of US leave.

    It also can’t be sufficient—my impression is that low-skill, low-wage jobs, jobs where workers really are by and large fungible, don’t tend to have great parental leave. OTOH, looking at the data I’m getting, I was right that law firms, by and large, have the best leave policies in the country (not all of them, of course, and there are other employers that do better). And that’s not just at the young associate level, where attorneys really are fungible. I have a friend at the non-equity partner level who still gets 10 weeks of paid paternity leave, notwithstanding that he has unique skills and relationships that can’t be entirely replicated by other attorneys.

    What’s the difference? My anecdotal impression is, parental leave largely depends on pressure and transparency (and, of course, law). Law firms started improving their paternity leave policies because smart women law students, who wanted to work at family-friendly firms, decided that paternity leave was a real marker of how committed to family-friendly policies a law firm was. These women wanted a firm that wouldn’t penalize them for taking parental leave.

    And firms are transparent: the NALP directory lays out law firms’ compensation and benefit policies. And not only does it lay out parental leave, it asks whether any associates took the leave in the last year. It’s not a perfect indication, of course, but it significantly raises the transparency, and allows potential employees to discriminate between potential employers based on the employers’ policies.

    (Note that I focus on law firms not only because they seem to be good citizens in this respect, but because I’m familiar with their practices—I don’t want to suggest they’re the only industry in the US with generous parental leave policies.)

  18. While I think both Clark and Sam make valuable points regarding the policy implications of paid maternity and paternity, what is being totally overlooked in this discussion are the economics of mandating such paid leave.

    When you saddle an employer with such an obligation, you add to its operating expenses, which often compels it to cut costs elsewhere in order to remain competitive. The most likely target will be employee salary increases. We have seen this with the Affordable Care Act—rising health insurance premiums have limited the ability of employers to give annual pay raises and, in many instances, have forced them to cut the size of their staff.

    Yes, European nations do require employers to offer more paid leave than the United States, but those economies are struggling under the weight of their social welfare commitments. And while it is true that some firms operate successfully in places like California and New York that mandate more generous employee benefits, many companies are fleeing those jurisdictions because of their high taxes and regulatory costs. Witness the two seats New York lost in the House of Representatives as a result of the last census.

    Don’t get me wrong—both the ACA and paid maternity/paternity leave may be wonderful things. But don’t deceive yourself into thinking that there is no cost associated with such benefits.That aphorism about there not being a free lunch is true. It really is.

  19. FarSide, there’s no current evidence that providing paid parental leave represents a net burden on businesses. Although employers worry in advance that they will bear significant costs of expanded paid parental leave, at least one study (I don’t have time to look more broadly) indicates that the vast, vast majority of businesses in California report that the expanded parental leave had either a positive effect or no noticeable effect on a number of things, including productivity and profitability. (Interestingly, smaller businesses reported even fewer negative effects than larger businesses.)

    I believe that more research is being done, but at the moment, it looks like concerns about costs to employers, while sincere, are wrong.

  20. To be fair to the economics point, it is easier in California to have these family friendly policies because (as the policies are mandated by law) there is a level playing field among your competitors. Whereas in other states, if one employer implements California type laws to benefit its workforce, that employer is going to take on higher costs than its competitors who don’t have such policies. So it is easier for a California employer to see the benefits of these policies than an employer who goes at it alone in another state.

    Also, the California and New York economies have been doing a lot better recently than a lot of economies in conservative states.

  21. Why are the costs to businesses of these policies supposed to be some sort of boogie man? Yes, every benefit has costs. Duh. The question is not are there costs but do the benefits justify the costs, including non-monetary and intangible benefits like equality and mental well-being.

    The sweeping generalization that Farside makes about Europe being burdened by their social responsibilities is ludicrous. Yes those are part of the equation, but the same would be true of any state in or near recession. Was anyone (serious) advocating dropping the idea of the weekend, the 40 hr work week, or workplace water coolers when the U.S. was in recession? Better family leave policies will change the economy, but they won’t make us not have an economy. And that’s the point–the current economy fails to provide benefits many wants, so creating a different economy with different distributions of wealth and privileges is a reasonable option to explore.

  22. I didn’t follow your link to that study, Sam, but if expanded parental leave has no effect on productivity or profitability, I’m curious how that could be. It seems that there are several possible explanations:

    New parents who are not granted leave are much less productive, taking time off or using “work time” to deal with caregivers, etc. So there’s no noticeable change once parental leave becomes the company policy–it’s just bringing aboveboard the reality that always has existed for new parents.

    Nobody really works that hard, so having one person gone from the workforce really doesn’t make a difference. This is the “Office Space” explanation: “I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work.”

    All the co-workers have to work harder to cover the leave-taking parents’ absence. Maybe they’re increasing their actual “work week” from 15 to 17 minutes. Or they’re working longer hours and not getting overtime pay.

  23. And don’t let anyone tell you that politics isn’t or shouldn’t be about picking winners and losers. Anyone who says that must be a winner.

  24. Marc, even where the playing field is level in places like California, adding operating expenses to an employer’s income statement will reduce its profit margins unless it can raise the price of its goods and services (not likely, unless it benefits from inelastic demand) or cut costs elsewhere.

    Also, while the California and New York economies have improved somewhat, they are still viewed by many companies as being inhospitable places for business growth and development. CNBC ranks California 27th and New York 35th in that department, and many other studies rank them much lower. Simply stated, New York isn’t losing votes in the electoral college because people don’t like the climate.

    If there is absolutely no cost to providing paid parental leave to employees, why aren’t employers rushing to offer this benefit? Surely it would enhance their ability to attract and retain good workers? Are employers stupid?

    While the jury may still be out on the actual cost to employers of mandatory maternity/paternity leave, you don’t need to be a Nobel laureate to realize that a small business with, say, 10 employees would struggle to pay such benefits to, and cope with absence of, a couple of workers who elected to take paid maternity/paternity leave.

    Those in government and academia—many of whom have never run a business—all too often blithely assume that unfunded mandates will have no adverse impact on the economy. Until we understand the potential impact of compelling employers provide paid maternity/paternity leave, perhaps we should exercise some restraint.

  25. Mark, I suspect that there are a lot of factors going into it. One, though, is that some portion of new parents (and especially new mothers) would end up leaving without sufficient leave. And my understanding is that it is expensive to hire and train new employees—to the extent that an employer can keep old employees instead, that represents a real financial savings, one that offsets, at least to some extent, the costs of expanded parental leave.

    It’s also a recruiting tool—if the best employees want family-friendly workplaces, providing those workplaces may help to recruit the best employees.

    That’s certainly too simplistic, but it has at least some explanatory power.

  26. it's a series of tubes says:

    Sam, if a male associate at your firm actually took the full amount of paternity leave to which they were entitled, do you honestly believe that choice would have no effect on that associate’s chance of making partner?

  27. tubes, in a word, yes. I knew several attorneys who took a significant portion of the leave offered (or the full leave) who weren’t penalized. I suspect that a good portion of them are no longer at my old firm, but, of my class, I think only one (or maybe two) attorneys are still there, the result, not of parental leave, but of the churning of big law firms in New York.

  28. Wahoo Fleer says:

    All the academics (and anyone else, for that matter) out there who claim that it’s good for employers to have mandated family leave policies should put their money where their mouths are. Start a business and exploit that market inefficiency all the way to the bank.

  29. Wahoo, plenty of businesses are, in fact, doing that: Amazon notwithstanding, most of the giants of technology provide generous leave. Most big law firms do. Goldman Sachs just doubled its paid paternity leave (from two weeks to four).

    I mean, this isn’t an exploint-the-market-ineffeciency kind of thing. The research suggests that there is at best a modest increase in productivity and profitability. But it does indicate that there’s no measurable downside.

    And we add here the apostolic mandate toward creating family-friendly work environments, whether or not it’s profitable. It seems to me that economics + religion argue that this is a good move.

    So I ask you: why your apparent hostility toward these policies?

  30. it's a series of tubes says:

    I guess if you don’t plan to stick around, taking paternity leave isn’t a big deal. At my firm (similarly sized as your old firm), where people tend to join as summer associates and spend their entire careers at one firm, taking 12 weeks of paternity leave would be hopping on the career torpedo.

  31. tubes, we didn’t have 12 weeks available. But, like I said, my I have a friend at a major national firm who is very clearly on the partner track, and has every intention of making partner (unless, I assume, something better comes along) has taken ~10 weeks of paternity leave in the past and intends to do so again in the future. It certainly could be a career impediment, but a lot of workplaces are sincerely working to keep it from being one.

    When I took 4 weeks of paternity leave, I certainly hoped to go into academia, but hadn’t interviewed and didn’t have a job yet. And a friend whose wife had a baby right around the same time took the full leave, too. I can’t find him on my old firm’s website (though I remember he spelled his name strangely, and I can’t remember how he spelled it), but at the time, he had recently lateraled to my firm and, to the best of my knowledge, didn’t have any immediate intention of leaving. The fact that the bulk of my class has left doesn’t mean they planned on it—rather, it means that alternative career opportunities came along.

  32. Wahoo Fleer says:

    I suppose that for those companies that choose to do it, it actually is good for them for all the reasons you outline in the comments. My opposition to mandates like these, while done with the best of intentions, have unintended consequences including jeopardizing women’s chances for promotion. Otherwise, apostolic mandates on public policy don’t get too far with me and I fail to understand why progressive mormons point to statements from general authorities to support their policy preferences when they happen to align.

  33. Wahoo, I’m not sure that these policies jeopardize women’s chances for promotion any more than the status quo does; certainly if parental leave policies become the norm and employers expect their employees to take the leave, women shouldn’t be penalized. And doubly so if paternity leave also becomes normative.

  34. FarSide,

    According to that same CNBC poll, Minnesota is the #1 state for business growth. Minnesota has also expanded FMLA rights and its laws are much more favorable to new parents than Utah or Idaho.

    I never said there was absolutely no cost to providing parental leave. Certainly it is a cost/benefit analysis. The benefits have already been discussed in detail. So I think workers (including those in government and academia) should be able to make that cost/benefit analysis at the voting booth.

    The argument that any workplace regulation will hurt business is always made. And yet our economy has still succeeded despite the forty hour workweek, minimum wage laws, health and safety regulations, etc..

  35. At my old law firm taking the full parental leave would’ve been a career torpedo. I do applaud companies and firms trying to expand their parental leave policies which may help to change that attitude.

  36. John Mansfield says:

    A family in my ward spent a year travelling around the world. There’s something to be said for the family togetherness that careers that allow sabbaticals can provide.

  37. I don’t understand the logic that privileges the status quo of our economy in the US. Any change made in any economic policy will put someone out of business and give someone else an edge that allows them to expand. So what? That happens all the time anyway as a result of things as simple as random changes in the weather. No one has an inalienable right to have their business and the business climate in which they operate not change. Suck it up. Produce more value for your customers.

  38. Clark Goble says:

    Sam (5:04) I don’t think I said anything about “allowed.” My point is more that the more redundant a position is the easier it is to give parental leave. If the company depends upon you and there’s not an easy way to take off significant time without it affecting the company badly then there will be strong incentives against letting people leave cost free. Now of course some companies will do it anyway. After all there are plenty of large corporations that are hardly efficient in using employees. Likewise some companies may offer such benefits in hopes of attracting better talent.

    So please don’t take me as offering a one size fits all analysis. That’s precisely what I’m arguing against. It seems a complex issue with non-obvious costs and benefits in some places.

    Low cost employees certainly are the most redundant and also the least likely to get benefits. But that’s true of benefits in general because benefits are really just hidden salary. So there are two things going on. One is total compensation including benefits goes to the most valuable workers. Yet the most valuable workers typically (but not always) are the least redundant. So you have a tension with influence going in two different directions.

    As for firms being transparent, they are transparent about formal rules. Yet informal or hidden costs are almost by definition not transparent. So a firm may follow stated rules yet people making use of allowed benefits may find there are hidden costs – especially in progression within the company. That’s why there’s a joke about Silicon Valley companies with all these game rooms and so forth left dusty because they’re there to attract workers yet workers quickly find out that using them leads to social costs. So transparency can be problematic.

    This is doubly true for women where often there are hidden blocks that make it harder to advance or get raises. Companies where these types of discrimination are found are often quite hard to prove. In some cases the discrimination may even be unconscious – and thus harder to work out.

    Don’t get me wrong, I want better parental leave. I think an even more important issue is accreditation of women who leave the work force for a few years to raise children and then attempt to come back. We have many women with good skills who find impediments due to being out of the workforce for five or six years.

    FarSide (7:18) I was just dealing with the leave and not paid leave. I find paid leave a much bigger problem simply due to the costs. A person who leaves not only costs the company due to opportunity costs but also explicit costs. Now of course companies are going to think about those total compensation costs. That means even if only unconsciously hirers are going to know that a woman likely to get pregnant is going to cost ⅓ to ½ as much those years they are pregnant (depending upon the mandate). This seems certain to have a marginal effect such as businesses are incentivized to not hire the women. Of course how they do that will vary, but there will be an effect.

    Likewise consider women with many children. The typical American working woman is likely only to have one child, maybe two in some cases. However consider a Mormon who may have 4 – 5 children. Suddenly the costs are quite different and the incentives change quite a bit.

    Again, I’m not taking a position on what we should do. However I do think these considerations need to be looked at when making our decision. Comparing our country to Europe can be problematic as especially regionally there are huge social differences between the US and Europe. Also parental leave is effectively an mandated increase in pay – potentially fairly large. We should expect effects similar to minimum wage increase. That is it will change the various incentives in hiring versus automation or outsourcing. The people businesses will be most apt to grant parental leave to will be the most sought after employees. Indeed they’ll be more likely to offer it since it’s effectively a pay hike that they don’t have to pay taxes on. There are always incentives to offer benefits as opposed to salary.

    If you look at the tech companies offering parental leave, you’ll note that it’s typically offered to the most valuable employees and not lower cost (fungible) employees. So Netflix offered it to the programmers and other skilled workers in their streaming service but not the employees stuffing envelops in their DVD service.

  39. Clark Goble says:

    Anonymous (10:57) I think the issue isn’t status quo but figuring out costs and benefits such that individuals can figure out how to make these changes. There is after all a big difference between a six week unpaid leave and a one year paid leave. There’s a big difference between government funded leave versus a mandate on corporations to pay for leave. Also there is a question of who the losers are. Regardless of how one views the value of paid leave, one has to engage with these issues. Especially since some studies find negative redistributive effects. That is for social/economic liberals it ought matter if the primary beneficiaries are those already reasonably well off while those bearing a disproportionate cost are the poor. Again you already see that with low skilled workers often not receiving the benefits – although California’s more modest law saw positive effects. Interestingly in California the poorer workers used the option less due to the effective costs on their income. The main beneficiaries were the middle class. (As we might expect – the poor are often poor due to the skills/jobs they have and the wealthy are likely less able to take too much time off due to the types of jobs they have)

  40. I can confirm that generous paternity and maternity leave was both offered, and used, by men and women at Gibson Dunn. Men often took the full 6 weeks of paid leave (some longer, if they were the primary care giver) with no adverse consequences. I observed this not only with associates, but young partners as well. I took 4 weeks when my son was born, and then 6 weeks with my daughter 15 months later. Taking leave in no way affected my career trajectory–my reviews remained positive and the firm paid me above-market bonuses each year. The common sentiment in my office is that everyone gets free get-out-of-work cards: 1) when you get married, and 2) when you have kids.

  41. Francisco Guzman says:

    Hey Sam, about your third footnote, here in Chile mothers get 6 weeks of parental leave before the birth and 24 weeks afterwards, all of them fully paid. Out of the 24 weeks after the birth, mothers can transfer a maximum of six weeks to the father if they wish to.

    So no, Chile is not at the bottom of that OECD ranking.

  42. Thanks, Francisco. So I don’t have any idea why Chile was left out of the chart, but it does mean that the US is alone at the bottom of the OECD in terms of legally-required paid parental leave.

  43. Hey, super late in the conversation, but I just wanted to throw this tidbit out there:
    When I was expecting in 2014, my husband inquired about his paternity benefits. HR informed him he only qualified for the FMLA two weeks unpaid… however, if he wanted to apply under our state (Massachusetts) maternity benefit, he could get eight weeks unpaid. What made this possible? Same-sex marriage! Because what if two men had a child? So MA lets people of any sex apply for maternity leave. He took the eight and we rejoiced in marriage equality directly strengthening our family.
    Now that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, I do wonder what impact that could have on parental leave.

  44. those economies are struggling under the weight of their social welfare commitments.

    Industry might claim that, but I’m skeptical because 1) the social welfare state was an integral part of Europe’s flourishing post-war economy; 2) Europe’s economic woes continue despite the ongoing dismantlement of the welfare state; and 3) the cost of statutory benefits is priced into wages, which tend to be lower than in the US.

  45. Last year when my daughter was diagnosed with leukemia, the operations manager that I work for, called me into his office and told me that my family comes first. He told me that the company would do whatever it could to support me and my family. Fortunately, I have the type of job that can be done remotely, if necessary. My company purchased a mobile hotspot for me so I could work remotely from the hospital and on the road. The VP to whom I report dotted line informed me that if I needed to miss a meeting or conference call, just to let her know. My employer had me fill out a FMLA form, but, to my knowledge, no one ever recorded hours or tracked days that I was with my daughter in the hospital. The response from my employer was amazing and heartwarming. I work for a great company that cares about its people.

  46. Awesome, Brian. Your employer certainly wins.

  47. Howdy Sam:

    My Big 4 public accounting provider provides 6 weeks paid leave for primary caregivers and 2 weeks paid leave for all others. And in CA disability is a paid leave benefit for up to three months, and post-pregnancy qualifies. Add to that the nice weather and Disneyland, and it’s not a bad place to live.

    My experience with three leaves now (one at six weeks and two at two weeks) is that, while nice, it changed little for the annual review process. I was still required to meet all billable hours requirements and sales goal requirements, and there was no pro ration for the leave, which in essence makes it similar to PTO: you work so much the weeks before and after you wonder if it was even worthwhile leaving in the first place.