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How to Navigate Employee Parental Leave

Welcoming a new child into the world is a magical experience. Yet, becoming a new parent — or adding another child to the mix — can be extremely challenging, too, both personally and professionally. Because of this, there are federal laws in place that give parents the time they need to care for their new children, without having to worry about their job.  

When employees take this extended time off, they leave behind a hole that their employer must fill on a temporary basis. This can be a challenge, of course, as the employer can’t simply hire someone else to take that person’s place. 

It can be tricky to navigate employee parental leave, but it’s made easier when you know what’s required of you and make a concrete plan for coverage. 

What Are Parental Leave Laws? 

The Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is a federal law that gives employees the ability to take 12 weeks off over a period of 12 months so they can care for a newborn, foster or adopted child. Employees can also use FMLA to care for another family member or attend to a serious health condition of their own. 

The law only applies, though, to private employers that have at least 50 employees. In addition, employees do not receive any salary from the company — or any compensation from the federal government — while they are away from their job. 

There are 11 states that do offer some form of paid family leave, though South Carolina and Georgia are not among them. Private employers could offer paid parental leave as a benefit to employees, but they aren’t required to. 

What FMLA does is protect an employee’s job while they take leave. Their job — or an equivalent one both in terms of compensation and their place on the organizational chart — must be kept for them while they’re out. 

Companies that are subject to FMLA must abide by these requirements or face stiff penalties, and potentially even lawsuits. 

Employer Best Practices for Parental Leave 

When an employee takes parental leave, it can be a daunting scenario for employers. While you’re certainly excited for the arrival of a new family member for one of your own, you also must figure out a way to pick up the slack while that person isn’t working. 

Here are some tips for navigating employee parental leave. 

Clearly Document and Communicate  

It’s very important that all companies clearly document their parental leave policies and then communicate those policies to their employees. This should be part of their employee handbook that is distributed to all new employees. 

When an employee tells a manager that they are expecting a child and will be taking leave, Human Resources should again provide them with copies of this documentation so they know how they will be supported. 

By having all of this is in writing and laid out clearly, it will help you avoid any potential mistakes and errors, and set up expectations for the employees, too. 

Plan for the Coverage 

Employers should include the employee who’s taking parental leave in the coverage plan for when they are gone. Managers shouldn’t simply dump that responsibility on the employee, but rather include them in the process. 

To do this properly, you will need to create a plan for coverage as far in advance as possible. By doing so, you’ll be able to properly distribute work and responsibilities to others, and even see whether you need to make a temporary hire to fill the gaps. 

When you do this, you’ll be empowering your employees, which will make them feel appreciated, supported and wanted. 

Make It Easy 

Expecting parents have a lot on their mind. The easier you can make their leave, the better.  

HR professionals and managers can help by standardizing the process, automating as much as they can and shouldering as much of the logistical burden as they can.  

Again, your employees will appreciate this hard work that you do for them and will likely feel more excited about returning to work once their parental leave is over. 

Navigate Employee Parental Leave with Beckham Insurance Group 

Employees parental leave can be scary for companies, as they must find a way to pick up the slack while a worker is out for an extended period of time. As happy as you might be for your employee who is welcoming a new child, you also must be concerned about how to ensure the company keeps moving forward without a hitch. 

When you have the right plan in place, it will make it easier to navigate employee parental leave. Beckham Insurance Group can help your company with this process if you’re in the South Carolina or Georgia region. 

In addition to ensuring you’re compliant with all federal and local laws, we can help you decide whether to provide your employees with additional parental leave benefits, which might be a boon for your recruitment and retention efforts. 

Want to learn more? Contact us today.