March 29, 2019
by Andrew Bonnington, Esq., Fifth Third Bank
When my daughter was born, I remember planning early in the year the number of vacation days I would use following her birth and making sure to carefully allocate my additional vacation days throughout the year. This was our first child, so I was also unsure what an appropriate amount of time to take off would be. I ended up taking the rest of the week off following her birth and the week after that.
The following year, the company I work for, Fifth Third Bank, created a parental bonding policy for eligible parents following the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. This policy provides four weeks of paid time off and can be used anytime within four months of the event occurring.
Fifth Third is not the only company creating a policy like this; the Society for Human Resource Management reported in its 2018 benefits survey an increase in its member organizations offering paid family leave from 2016. Paid maternity leave increased from 26 percent in 2016 to 35 percent in 2018. Paid paternity leave increased from 21 percent in 2016 to 29 percent in 2018. The top reasons these policies are being enacted, according to respondents, is employee retention and to attract new talent.
These changes reflect a growing trend among new parents, not just mothers, of wanting to take more time off to spend with their families. In a Boston College study called “The New Dad,” 89 percent of men want to take time off from work after the birth of a child and think this leave should be paid. Furthermore, Ernst & Young’s global generational survey in 2014 found that 83 percent of American millennials said they would be more likely to join a company offering paid parental leave.
While it is not realistic to expect all employers to enact a policy like this, it is an encouraging trend for new parents. The peace of mind I have knowing how much time I will be able to use if we have a second child and not having to worry about planning my vacation days in advance plays a fairly significant role in my overall job satisfaction. From talking with colleagues in a similar situation, parental bonding leave is important to them as well.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.