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Parental Involvement Leave: Options to Support Working Parents

Legislation has been introduced to the U.S. Congress to amend the FMLA with rules for Parental Involvement Leave. While not becoming law yet, employers should consider what options they offer to support working parents in their companies to help them achieve a better work-life balance.

Parental Involvement Leave was introduced during the last congressional session in the United States with legislation that sought to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act. One such bill aimed to make provisions for employees to take up to four hours per month or 24 hours per year for school activities, family medical or dental appointments, and other caretaking responsibilities – including for spouses and elderly parents. The future of last year's proposals remains to be seen as a new session of Congress begins.

For employers that are trying to find tools to help employees balance work and family responsibilities, bills such as these may have a positive impact if passed. Until then, here are some factors to consider:

Understand State and Local Level Regulations

It’s important for employers to understand whether their business falls under the protections of state or local laws for any type of Parental Involvement Leave. Make sure your employees who are covered understand that they have access to the benefit and how it works.

Embrace Flexible Scheduling

Flexible scheduling has become popular with many different demographics in the workforce – from Millennials on-the-go to Baby Boomers looking for retirement alternatives. For working parents, flexible scheduling can make it easier to balance work-life responsibilities. Telecommuting when you have a sick child, or leaving the office early to pick up kids from daycare, and then catching up on email later in the evening are examples of this balance. Determine whether a flexible schedule is right for your business and how it could help support your employees.

For working parents, flexible scheduling can make it easier to balance work-life responsibilities.

Evaluate Your Parental Leave Plans

A recent study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) highlighted the disparity in parental leave between mothers and fathers. Mothers received nearly twice as many days as fathers. Noting that some of that time may be to physically recover from the birth, the article still raises important questions about ensuring mothers and fathers are treated equally where parental leave is concerned (aside from time for physical recovery).  To more effectively support parents, you may also want to consider whether your paid parental leave options could be more generous overall.

Consider Dependent Care Assistance

Offering a dependent care savings account allows workers to use pre-tax dollars to offset some of the costs associated with childcare. In addition, many companies offer an additional benefit or subsidy to help defray the costs. Some limit these to children, while others offer elder care or comparable benefits to employees whose caretaking may extend to elderly parents. Not only can this help save money and lower stress, but it can be a significant competitive advantage when recruiting top talent.

Offering a dependent care savings account allows workers to use pre-tax dollars to offset some of the costs associated with childcare.

Offer Onsite Perks

If workers' time outside the office is limited, onsite perks can be another great way to help your team get everything done and leave time for the family. Many companies explore onsite services such as laundry drop off, car care or detailing, grocery delivery, or a car service. By offering these perks, it can show that you value your employees, and their work/life balance.

Until there are more provisions requiring employers to offer time off for employees to tend to these types of personal and family needs, supporting the employees in your workforce will take some planning. However, with a bit of strategy, it's possible to use a flexible work schedule, financial incentives, and onsite perks to make it easier for your star talent to deliver top performance at work and feel fully engaged with their family needs and obligations.


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