As a company, we have always had strong convictions when it comes to supporting our team and ensuring their success. Parental leave was one of those ways we could support our growing team through a huge transitional period in their lives.
We specifically chose to have a universal Parental Leave Policy, instead of separate maternity and paternity leave policies, because we believe it’s important for all parents to take some time to bond with the newest member of their family.
When we set out to create a Parental Leave Policy, we had to look at our legal obligations in British Columbia and California. Our Canadian employees were eligible for 52 weeks of maternity leave, 36 weeks of which are available as paternity leave. During those 52 weeks, any parent is eligible for benefits through the provincial government, with a maximum amount of $547/week or $2188/month. We were also required to continue health and dental benefit coverage to employees while on maternity or paternity leave. This was the minimum requirement of all employers in British Columbia.
This was our starting point. Next, we worked to figure out if we could provide more than the minimum. We researched how much was the right amount for our team, and what we could do for our employees in California, where there are fewer state-provided supports for new parents.
We also spent some time looking at employee handbooks, career pages, and speaking to colleagues in other companies. Based on our findings, we composed a chart of comparables across our industry, operating in both BC and California. The majority of this research was completed in 2015, so some of the numbers may have changed since then.
Once we had an overview of how other companies built their parental leave policies, we looked at what we could do as a 12-person company (at that time) split between two countries. We broke down the immediate costs if someone were to take parental leave: 6 weeks of payroll, the cost to replace them during their leave, and the cost to recruit that replacement. There were intangible costs to consider as well: workflow adjustment for the team, ramp-up time for recruiting a temp, and how long we could sustain overall productivity with someone away, without it affecting company performance. With only 12 people, we had to seriously look at what responsibilities could be handled by a temp and what had to be passed to other internal stakeholders.
In the end, we decided to provide 6 weeks of fully paid parental leave across both offices, with an additional 46 weeks of unpaid leave. In Canada, our employees have access to government benefits for those additional 46 weeks and in the US, employees have continued access to our health and dental coverage. You can find a copy of our internal Parental Leave policy here, which better outlines what all employees are eligible for.
In the end, we implemented parental leave for three reasons:
- It was the right thing to do to support our team. The barrier to implement it was a week of research and budgeting, which is pretty minimal in the grand scheme of things.
- The cost to the company is low when you factor in the return from higher employee satisfaction, greater retention rates, and better employer branding.
- It was a great way to grow our team. Parental leave opened up a new segment of professionals to our recruitment pipeline.
Parental leave should be an easy decision for any company that is competing for talented professionals.