Small Business Financing: Allowing Employees Paid Maternity Leave
A recent article from Bloomberg Businessweek assessed the situation in the US regarding maternity leave and other benefits for expecting mothers in the workforce. The situation is not great, with Papua New Guinea the only other country with no guaranteed leave for the care of newborn children, and only 5% of American companies offering fully paid maternity leave, according to the article. When it comes to small businesses, even less is being done, since businesses that are under 50 employees technically don’t have to provide maternity leave at all to their employees.
Are business owners overestimating the value of maternity leave? The value of maternity leave in terms of hard currency may be less than the positive value that comes with being flexible. In an environment where many businesses are reporting having problems finding and keeping top tier talent, playing up the flexibility advantage that comes along with a smaller business setting is a prudent move. It is better to plan in advance to cover employees who need to take leave, either allowing them to handle their responsibilities remotely, or making arrangements to see that their role is filled while they are gone instead of forcing an employee to come to work after giving birth or accept time off with no pay.
Paid benefits are linked to greater employee loyalty and lower turnover. Businesses that are looking to sweeten the pot for employees when they are unable to compete directly with corporations in terms of salary often use flexible working conditions and benefit programs to counterbalance the monetary rewards employees might find elsewhere. Providing maternity leave is something that your employees will most likely not take advantage of too often, so over an employee’s span of working for your business, it is probable that their effectiveness and dedication would outweigh the costs of providing them with maternity leave by a large margin.
If you are unable to offer paid maternity leave, you should speak with your employee to work out a suitable solution. Ideally, providing paid maternity leave should be a no-brainer, but it is not always possible for business owners to support paid leave even if they want to. In these situations, you should try to work out a compromise offer with your employee. By actively working with them and demonstrating that you care about meeting their needs, you will be more likely to retain them despite the fact that you are not able to offer full paid leave.
Photo Credit to Tatiana Vdb on Flickr