A recent study by Paychex.com revealed that 48% of small business owners would support mandatory paid family leave. This marks a fascinating shift in businesses focusing a little less on the bottom line and a little more on attracting and retaining qualified candidates.
Maternity leave has been around for a long time. New moms relish this time with their babies but it often exists under a cloud of financial uncertainty. Many workplaces do not offer official maternity leave, and those that do offer it don’t always pay employees while they’re out. If the leave is paid, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fully paid. Some companies offer partially paid leave or a program that may technically be a sick leave or short-term disability policy that pays employees during leaves of absence.
While using sick leave ensures that mothers can still get paid while bonding with their new child, it can become problematic in the long run. When an employee returns to work with no sick leave and catches a cold or has a sick child who needs attention, the employee is faced with a difficult negotiation where he or she must try to get work off without pay or fear of repercussions at the office.
Over the past few years, more and more companies have shifted their policies away from limited or nonexistent family leave and instead use paid maternity and paternity leave as a recruiting tool. “No matter how large or small the organization, most employers want to create a workplace culture that supports employees in times of need,” said Martin Mucci, Paychex president and CEO. “However, for small businesses, mandatory paid leave may present challenges. Whether it’s having a key member of a small team out of the office for an extended period of time or the back-end administration of such a program, mandatory paid leave will introduce new dynamics small business owners will have to navigate.”
A variety of options have been thrown around when it comes to funding paid family leave if it becomes mandatory. An article explaining the Paychex survey reveals that President Trump’s new tax plan, which was signed into law on December 22, 2017, states some employers that provide “paid family and medical leave” to their employees may be eligible for a tax credit that ranges between 12.5-25% of wages paid to qualifying employees.
Whether or not mandatory paid family leave will become the norm is still to be determined. But this survey indicates that the winds of change are coming and alterations to these long-standing policies are on their way.