Despite the increasing popularity of paid leave programs in the United States, a new report finds that there's a long way to go.
Just 13% of private sector employees and 6% of low-wage workers benefit from paid family leave, according to Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), a nonprofit that promotes the adoption of paid leave policies. More than 100 million Americans have no access to paid leave, and one in four mothers goes back to work just 10 days after giving birth, according to the report.
The report surveyed the 60 largest employers in the country, and concluded that the companies "are not doing enough" on the paid leave front. "Our findings reveal that half of the companies we could confirm have discriminatory policies that leave out fathers, adoptive parents, and low-wage employees," it reads. Of the 60 employers surveyed, Deloitte, Bank of America, and Ernst & Young were deemed "standouts," offering 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents.
But even some companies that do offer paid leave, such as General Electric and Amazon, provide it only to salaried workers, the report notes, indicating that it is very much an "elite benefit," not available to hourly or low-wage workers.
The U.S., Suriname, and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that do not offer paid maternity leave. The report offers this example to signify why paid parental leave policies are important and beneficial not just for the careers of employees and wellbeing of their families, but for businesses as well:
Google provides a strong example of how an improved paid family leave policy can lead to better talent retention: their attrition rate for postpartum women was twice that for other employees – but when Google lengthened maternity leave to five months from three, and changed it from partial pay to full pay, attrition decreased by 50 percent.
Paid leave programs, for both men and women, were pushed by Hillary Clinton during her run for the presidency as a way to help close the gender wage gap between the sexes and help working families cope with rising childcare costs. President-elect Donald Trump also jumped onboard with a paid leave policy, proposed by his daughter Ivanka, though it only extends paid leave to women.
The best paid leave policies for the 60 largest companies U.S. according to PL+US's report:
- Bank of America - 16 weeks for birth and adoptive mothers and fathers
- Citigroup - 16 weeks for birth mother, 8 weeks for birth father, 8–16 weeks for adoptive parents (16 for primary, 8 for secondary)
- Deloitte - 16 weeks for birth and adoptive mothers and fathers
- Ernst & Young - 16 weeks for birth and adoptive mothers and fathers
- General Electric - 16–18 weeks for birth mothers, 6–12 weeks for birth fathers (12 if they are primary caregivers, 6 if they are secondary caregivers), 6–12 for adoptive parents (12 if they are primary caregivers, 6 if they are secondary caregivers)
- JP Morgan Chase - 16 weeks for primary caregivers, 2 weeks for secondary caregivers (including birth and adoptive mothers and fathers)
- Wells Fargo - 16 weeks for primary caregivers, up to 4 weeks for non-primary caregiver (including birth and adoptive mothers and fathers)