The birth of a child, adoption, the need to care for a sick family member – these are just some situations in which employees need time off work to focus on their non-work duties and not feel that another, equally important area of their lives is suffering through work. However, not all countries allow employees to take time off with pay in such situations.

Such policies are not without impact on the well-being of the people they employ and, by extension, the results achieved by the company. Below we point out why employees should have paid family leave, outlining the benefits of this arrangement not only for mothers and fathers but also for employers.

What is paid family leave?

Paid family leave is time off from work (while retaining the right to full or partial pay), which is granted to employees to allow them to concentrate on their child-related duties or care for a loved one (e.g., in situations of childbirth, adoption, illness, etc.).

The terms and conditions of such authorized absences from work depend on the country and applicable laws (sometimes also local regulations, such as in the United States). Most often they take the form of, for example:

  • Maternity leave – given to mothers after the birth of a child to provide adequate care during the first months of life,
  • paternity – given to fathers to relieve the mother of her duties around the young child,
  • Parenting – can be used by both the mother and father after the birth of a child or adoption to spend time with the child in the early stages of life/residence in a new place,
  • Guardianship – given to employees who need to provide care for a sick child, spouse or parent.

Paid family leave – benefits

Employers may avoid giving paid family leave, thinking it only helps their workforce. They don’t realize the potential it provides for them as well. Here’s a list of the key benefits for both parties.

Benefits for employees
  1. Building and strengthening family ties
  2. Paid family leave allows employees to maintain a work-life balance. Without fear of losing income, they can focus on important matters related to their children, effectively building and strengthening ties with their loved ones. As a result, their life satisfaction improves.

  3. Better welfare
  4. Giving employees time off with income contributes to improving their mental and physical health. By letting workers some time off to relax, they reduce the stress of fulfilling all their responsibilities at the same time and maintain a work-life balance. With better health, they are also more productive at work.

  5. Better adaptation to a new situation
  6. This type of time off also allows employees to properly adjust to playing new roles and carrying out previously unfamiliar responsibilities (such as caring for a newborn or adopted child). They gain time to build self-confidence, which is also reflected in their performance at work.

Benefits for the employer
  1. Greater employee involvement
  2. Employees who have the opportunity to take this type of time off are more motivated to work and committed to their duties. They give more of themselves because they feel appreciated and supported by their employer. As a result, the quality of their work and the efficiency they achieve improves.

  3. Competitiveness
  4. Companies that offer paid family leave (in countries where it is not an obligation) become more attractive in the eyes of potential employees. In the labor market, it is noticeable that candidates are looking for places that consider work-life balance. A mother- and father-friendly policy embedded in a company’s culture is a way to build a positive external image and attract top talent.

  5. Retention in posts
  6. Employees who receive support and flexibility in reconciling the fulfillment of all their responsibilities are more likely to stay with the organization for longer. Increased job retention effectively reduces costs associated with recruiting or training new employees. It also guarantees less downtime – maintaining productivity at similar levels.

Paid family leave drawbacks

Why do some countries still resist providing time off for young mothers and fathers? Companies may be particularly concerned about the costs associated with financing paid family leave – especially for small and medium-sized companies that cannot count on support from local governments or state institutions.

Moreover, when an employee takes this type of time off, their responsibilities and tasks pass on to other team members, which can lead to an increased burden on employees who remain at work. When introducing this type of arrangement, you need to find a balance between the needs of all employees and the proper functioning of the organization.

Paid Family Leave

Paid family leave – summary

Paid family leave provides substantial support for employees in carrying out their parental responsibilities. Importantly, its introduction – as we pointed out above – also benefits the organization by increasing team retention, work commitment and efficiency.

Nonetheless, it undoubtedly requires the development of appropriate policies and regulations that take into account the interests of both sides of the employment relationship, to minimize the possible risks associated with the introduction of such a solution in the organization. Still, it becomes an opportunity to stand out in the market, gain in the eyes of current and future employees and improve performance – in line with the idea that a fostered employee can become the greatest asset for an organization.

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.