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The older I get the more liberal my thinking seems to become. At this juncture in my life there are some things that I can see more clearly. These days I am very clearly seeing the shift to more liberal (employee benefits) on two levels. Those benefits that employers choose to offer because they feel it will help them attract top performers and those business that adopt new employee benefits because they are mandated by the government. The one group of employers, like the Googles, the Microsofts and NetFlix tend to lead the way in this country. And then at the other end of the spectrum are the businesses that opt to close rather than provide health insurance to their employees. Most of us come down somewhere in between.
The one benefit I have been paying particular attention to is maternity leave. I have read and been told repeatedly that the United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer a significant paid leave for maternity (this would be a government mandated plan as that would be the only way to gain a very high level of compliance). When I think about this, it seems wrong that we do not do this.
I will take it one step further too, if we are going to offer Maternity leave for newborns, should we not also offer Paternity leave as well? Because… some of us fathers have been equally , if not more involved in the raising of our children than the mothers. Super… this seems well and fine, we pass a law, mandate the leave and move on, right?
No. It’s just not that simple. Everything has a cost. Even if it is mandated across the country this will be an additional cost to bear when competing in global markets.
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Last week I was working on communicating the cost of benefits to different groups in our organization. One way to do this is as follows. Take the number of day/hours that an employee works and divide the cost of the benefits over those time frames. Take a look at the chart
|Time Frame & Time Off||Days||Hours||Benefit Costs||Per Day||Per Hour|
|5 days week X 52 weeks||260||2080||$ 8,500||$ 32.69||$ 4.09|
|With 2 weeks PTO||250||2000||$ 8,500||$ 34.00||$ 4.25|
|With 4 weeks PTO||240||1920||$ 8,500||$ 35.42||$ 4.43|
|With 17 wks PTO (13 + 4)||175||1400||$ 8,500||$ 48.57||$ 6.07|
If I look at it another way, 13 weeks off for a maternity leave, 4 leaves comprise a year. How does a business cover for that lost labor, and how do we pay for that. We continue to be told in HR that we need to look at matters with our business minds, but when I look at this from a business decision this tells me this is the wrong thing to do. When I look at it from my heart and global prospective it tells me it is absolutely the right thing to do.
I guess in time we will get there. After all it wasn’t that long ago, to think that same sex partner or trans gender benefits would even be conceivable let alone reality. Our world is changing!