Paid Maternity Leave: What is it? Why Support it?
As per research, 273,000 women take maternity leave every month, on an average between 1994 to 2015. Choosing to become a mother is a big decision for every woman, especially if she is a working individual. Having to stop working for a good lot of months can be frustrating sometimes. On top of that, there is another confusion of whether she would be entitled to paid maternity leave.
What is a Paid Maternity Leave?
In recent times, maternity leave has been in the talks for workers and businesses. While the existing expecting women are already interested in the topic, new hires are also looking for employers who support employees and their families.
Maternity leave is nothing but the period when a woman stops working following the birth of her child. A pregnant woman is expected to give time-off requests to her employer. The maternity leave can start during the pregnancy period or post-birth. But the main problem lies in whether the expecting mothers will get the compensation during this time.
Usually, businesses consider the paid maternity leave as an expense. However, if you see it in a way, a maternity leave policy can help promote business and talent. Productivity, employee retention, and employee loyalty come tagged to it as female employees appreciate the gesture of getting support from their employers. And smart companies know this. New mothers who are granted paid maternity leave are more likely to have excellent physical and mental health, and their offspring are also born healthy.
The law does not require maternity leave, but for FMLA, 12 weeks is the maximum time. However, California offers a 52-week break for expecting mothers where they are paid on a partial basis.
Paid Maternity Leave Benefits
Right from productivity to retention issues, offering paid maternity leaves do come with attached benefits.
1. Increasing Female Employees
In today’s world, women are coming forward in good numbers. They almost consist half of the workforce. This means that women are trying to balance their families and careers, which is a great thing.
But if the maternal leave policies are so insufficient, the mothers are left with two options: either going to work soon after childbirth or staying at home altogether. A situation such as this calls for a paid maternal leave policy as this can make the female workforce less troubled about losing wages while on leave, and instead, they can focus on child care.
2. Retaining Employees
When employees are content in their jobs, they are less likely to quit. Infact, the paid maternity leaves are going to build a kind of loyalty for their workplace. If you offer paid maternity leaves to the female workforce, they will feel more secure. Isn’t this a good thing for the company?
Once someone is done with childbirth, she will return to work, be more loyal and make a valuable asset to the organization. Employee loyalty grows along with the desire to deliver the best after being on leave for a long time thereby trying to be back in the game.
3. Benefitting Families
Paid maternity leave benefits families on a significant scale. The infant death rate reduces, and you can see an improvement in the child’s health as their mothers are around and can take care of them properly with no financial crunches. The fact that women receive paid leaves prevents them from giving into stress post-childbirth.
The child gets the proper care, so does the mother. During this time, positive family bonding takes place, which is a significant criterion for child development. Providing short-term unpaid leaves can cause unnecessary chaos leading to stressful circumstances that affect the entire family.
4. Uplifting Low-income Women
Many women are working on a moderate pay scale. Employees like them require organizational support during times of pregnancy. One of the essential reasons why we need a paid maternal leave policy.
Be it 12 weeks of paid policy or 52-week; working female individuals deserve to embrace their child at ease. And the people with low wages require more of this for they will have to provide for their child.
5. Elevating Employee Productivity
If you are an employer who is giving ample provisions to your female workforce, you will notice the rise in productivity levels above everything else.
When the expecting mother gets full support from her employer, she will come back with a blast. Since she would be able to take care of her child and be there with it without any problem, returning to work will develop a kind of enthusiasm and appreciation for her organization.
6. Reducing Infant Mortality
With women in the corporate world now more than ever, pregnancy becomes a crucial issue with all the work stress and everything else. An expecting mother has a lot of things going on. In addition to that, if there is no paid maternity leave, financial instability also arises.
Moreover, if the mother has to go to work right after giving birth, the infant is deprived of primary care. She might have to leave the child with family members unaware of basic infant needs. Such a situation has many times led to terrifying incidents. Therefore, with a well-structured maternity leave policy, incidents as such can be prevented. The mother can be there along with providing the best to her child.
7. Boosting Mental Health
Postpartum depression is a prevalent thing amongst women. There is a constant rush of emotions that takes place once a woman gives birth. Right from excitement to crying spells and also depression- a mother faces it all. Often known as baby blues, this phase lasts relatively longer than is expected.
Faced with such a situation, if the mother has to go back to work, there are chances of her being hostile eventually ruining her mental health at work. Gradually, the workplace will be a place of chaos for this would create discomfort for other employees too. Hence, it will lead to a case of constant disruption to a good work culture. To not witness that, all you have to do is provide women employees with long paid leaves for them to overcome the mood-swing phase.
8. Offering Recovery Time after Labor
Women go through a lot during those nine months and after. Both physical and mental health are strained- physically from pregnancy and labor, mentally from monitoring the newborn 24x7. During these times, support from the employer is something that comes in handy.
Knowing that she has a place to go to and work in the same way before is relieving. Paid maternity leaves let women take time and adjust accordingly. And, once she is well-equipped with the challenges of handling a baby, she can finally go back to her work zone without having to lose anything in the process. This will only make her more robust and better in work-life balance.
In a world where women empowerment is a serious and often-talked issue, doesn’t the idea of paid maternity leave a smart one? Both employers and employees are on the winning side.
For the employers, it is the level of dedication and loyalty they would earn in return. Every woman deserves to choose if they want to become a mother and an employee at the same time. And you are to give her that choice.
Thus, there need to be provisions for a well-designed paid maternity leave policy for the entire company's well-being.