April 27, 2018

The Benefits of Providing Paid Leave

by Karen Poling, Karen Poling Law, LLC

Providing extended maternity leave, or any kind of medical leave, to an employee can be very difficult for a small employer because of the perceived cost and concerns about staffing shortages.

Where the employer has fewer than 50 employees in a 75-mile radius, there is no legal obligation to provide for either paid or unpaid leave for the birth or adoption of a child. However, doing so may benefit the employer in the long-term. Employers are working hard to attract employees who can excellently perform the duties of a position. Many potential employees are females who are in their primary child bearing years. An employer does not want to lose an employee because she faces termination when she requires time away from work to deliver a child. Not to mention the potential real or perceived potential legal issues this brings up.

The medical leave policy that an employer adopts will apply more broadly to all employees who experience medical issues. A short-term disability policy may provide 60 percent of the employee’s salary if he or she needs to take six weeks off for a medical issue. An employer may fully or partially fund the policy, and make the policy available to all employees. An employer may also provide paid time off, which the employee can accumulate to bridge the gap between paid and unpaid leave.

The obvious benefits of providing some type of paid leave policy are that it increases your attractiveness as an employer to candidates and likely decreases turnover, which also saves you money on recruiting and retraining. Less obvious benefits include a cross-trained workforce because everyone needs to be trained on all jobs to cover those who might be out on leave, and improved employee engagement when employees can see that their employer cares.