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Why You Should Revisit Your Parental Leave Policy

POSTED ON 
June 14, 2022

At the end of May, I had the pleasure of attending Staffbase’s VOICES 2022: The Great Reconnection conference in New York City. I was absolutely blown away by the talent of the community and the brilliance of the speakers – including Brilliant Ink’s very own CEO, Ann Melinger, who presented “Crafting Content: The Power of Personas.”  

The exciting lineup also included Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, the co-founders and co-CEOs at theSkimm. It was during their discussion of their viral social media campaign, #ShowUsYourLeave, that I realized I didn’t know much about Brilliant Ink’s paid family leave policy (whoops!).  

After the conference, I sat down with our CEO, Ann Melinger, and our Head of Operations, Lindsay McCleary, to see how our recently updated policy would benefit our team and hopeful parents like me. I quickly learned that there are several amazing benefits and considerations in our policy that are worth sharing – let’s dig in!  

How to Update Company Policies

Before we break down our updated policy, let’s chat about updating policies holistically.  

As a rule of thumb, we recommend reviewing Human Resource policies periodically (at least once a year, but ideally more!) to ensure that they align with current best practices, employee expectations, company values, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) commitments.

Speaking of DEI, we also strongly recommend working with your Head of DEI or an outside expert to make certain that your policies accurately reflect your DEI commitments.  

If you’ve ever worked with us, you know that we live and breathe data, so we highly recommend benchmarking your policies with other companies of your shape and size. We leaned on theSkimm’s database and a Lattice Slack community to help us get a better grasp on what other agencies are offering their employees.  

Our Updated Family Leave Policy

We believe all parents should have the opportunity to have time to bond with their child after birth or adoption. Brilliant Ink provides the following parental leave for all parents:

  • Up to 16 weeks of paid leave, starting as early as two weeks before the child is born or within one year of adoption
  • Up to 2 weeks of transition time upon return to work - 24 hours per week at 100% pay
  • Intensive care: If your baby requires care in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) after birth, Brilliant Ink provides leave during your baby's stay in the hospital. Once you're all able to head home, your family leave begins, as outlined above.  

the direct and indirect impacts of our updated policy.

UP TO 16 WEEKS OF PAID LEAVE, STARTING AS EARLY AS TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE CHILD IS BORN OR WITHIN ONE YEAR OF ADOPTION.

I know, my jaw dropped too! Four months of paid parental leave is incredibly generous for a small business. In fact, parental leave in the U.S. varies greatly based on the state you live in and what your company offers, ranging from 12 weeks unpaid to 6 months of paid leave.  

Not only does a longer leave period make sense for the new parent who needs time to heal, bond and adjust, but it also creates opportunity for other members of the team to step in, step up and help out. For instance, when my manager took her family leave, I was able to flex new skills, build relationships with the leadership team, and gain exposure to behind-the-scenes work. It created more space for me to show up for the agency in new and unexpected ways.  

Another benefit of a longer leave period is that when the employee returns to work, they come with fresh ideas and perspectives. Our CEO has even commented that returning parents are noticeably more engaged and motivated to improve the agency. Sounds like wins all around to me!  

👉 Did you notice that our policy includes all parents? Because we like to keep inclusivity top of mind, we made sure to capture all parents, regardless of their path to parenthood or identity. To name just one of the ways equal leave benefits everyone, according to the Employee Benefit News, “When men do take parental leave, women benefit. In Sweden, for example, each additional month of leave taken by the father increases the mother’s earnings by 6.7 percent.”

UP TO 2 WEEKS OF TRANSITION TIME UPON RETURN TO WORK – 24 HOURS PER WEEK AT 100% PAY

Yep, you read that right! Two weeks of part-time work at full-time pay to create a phased approach to returning to work. Let’s be honest; it’s not a realistic expectation for your people to jump right back into the 9-to-5, especially after focusing on their family for 16 weeks.  

By creating a phased approach, we’re allowing parents to determine what new schedule works best for them while also giving them the time they so desperately need to continue bonding with their child.  

IF THE BABY REQUIRES CARE IN THE NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (NICU) AFTER BIRTH, BRILLIANT INK PROVIDES LEAVE DURING THE BABY’S STAY IN THE HOSPITAL. FAMILY LEAVE BEGINS, AS OUTLINED ABOVE, WHEN THE BABY IS ABLE TO HEAD HOME.

This addition to our policy was directly inspired by the founders of theSkimm! In the NICU, parent-child bonding time can be limited due to heat lamps, CPAP machines and other important medical equipment keeping our little ones alive.  

Our updated policy allows ample time for our employees to bond with their children in the comfort of their homes. And the last thing we want new parents worrying about is whether the “clock has started” on their paid leave, when they have a baby in the NICU.

EACH EMPLOYER CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Let’s address the elephant in the room. We recognize that it’s a common belief that the bigger your company is, the more robust your benefits should be. While that may be true for some, it’s not impossible for smaller companies, just like ours, to create human-centric policies that support employee wellbeing.  

Regardless of the size of your company or an employee’s parental status or identity, comprehensive and inclusive policies are imperative in creating a meaningful experience for your employees. Every employer has the power to create positive change in the workplace.

Are you inspired to shift your HR policies or to update that employee handbook but don’t know where to start? Have no fear, we’re here! Drop us a line and we’ll be ready to help you create meaningful and engaging experiences for your employees.  

For more bite-sized brilliance, subscribe to our monthly employee engagement newsletter, the Inkwell, and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitterand Pinterest!

Claire Turk
CREATIVE SERVICES LEAD

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