Overall the U.S. falls behind other countries in terms of the leave policies it offers workers. Accordingly, it made news recently when one corporation announced its intention to institute an inventive paid leave program that’s flexible enough to meet the needs of modern workers-especially those in the sandwich generation.
In general, paid leave policies offer American workers little time to spend taking care of loved ones. Whether in caring for an aging parent or supporting a loved one undergoing medical treatment, or in taking time to bond with a new or adopted child, American workers have always had precious few weeks off.
Family Medical Leave Act
Companies that offer leave through the Family Medical Leave Act do not have to pay workers for time taken under the FMLA. This forces employees to choose between earning money to pay their bills (or for family medical care) or taking time to be a caregiver. Too many workers cannot afford to go without pay for months, so they continue to work while trying to provide care in off hours, quickly burning out.
This month, Deloitte changed its policy to offer workers 16 weeks of paid leave, which can be taken to support not only children, but spouses and aging parents as well. Now, workers supporting elderly parents can take time off to care for their parents without worrying about their jobs or suffering a loss of income as a result. By adopting such a generous policy, Deloitte sends a signal to existing and prospective workers that it values their families and respects their needs.
Policy benefits workers of all generations
The flexible nature of Deloitte’s policy also benefits all workers, not just the younger subset of workers who plan to have children. Longer parental leave policies can leave older workers feeling resentment toward their younger colleagues, who receive more perks than they did. The policy also promotes gender parity by making it more acceptable for workers of any age or gender to take time off for care giving.
While this is only one instance of a company changing their paid leave policy to be more inclusive of the needs of modern Americans, it’s a sign of changes to come. Expect more companies to institute similar paid leave policies.