Friday, January 19, 2007

The power of family-friendly policies

According to the IPMA-HR HR Bulletin,

"A bill, S. 80, has been introduced by Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) to give federal employees paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. The “Family Leave Act” would provide new birth mothers with up to eight weeks of paid leave and new fathers with five paid days of leave. Employees who adopt would be entitled to at least five days of paid leave.

“This measure will provide hardworking American families with the necessary flexibility to care for their newborn and newly adopted children,” said Senator Stevens. “It will provide time for mothers to recover after childbirth without having to worry about the financial burdens that come with unpaid leave. Thousands of Alaska women work for the federal government and could benefit under this new program.” The measure would also provide for what Stevens calls “responsible parenting leave”—eight hours of paid leave to attend a child’s educational activity and/or to take children to the doctor."

As a father-to-be, I can tell you that anytime someone mentions "paid family leave", my ears perk up. Idiosyncrasies of the bill aside (e.g., 8 weeks for the mom but only 5 days for the dad and only 5 days for adopting), what is the recruiting power of a policy like this? A lot of people assume there is paid maternity/paternity leave, but in my experience this is uncommon.

California recently enacted a paid family leave program that is paid 100% by employees (estimated average cost of $46 a year per worker). It's not perfect, but it's a start.

I'll tell you one thing--I would consider a policy like this to be a big plus in the employer attractiveness column. And I'm bettin' I'm not the only one.

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