Women make up a larger portion of the workforce today than ever before. One employment perk/benefit that many women compare between potential employers is maternity leave. Many companies nationwide have increased the amount of maternity leave available to their employees in recent decades but there is a wide variation in the amount of time (usually measured in weeks or months) provided. Other characteristics of maternity leave that vary are level of pay (100% or some percentage less than that) and whether or not there is a waiting period after initial employment before maternity leave is available. Does your company provide enough maternity leave? Making sure you do can be a big factor in keeping your company attractive to top potential talent out there.
In terms of the total amount of time available, HR experts peg the current “sweet spot” of maternity to be around 3-6 months. Anything less has led to employers receiving feedback about poor work/life balance and overstressed/underperforming employees. Some companies even go up to 9 months or a year, but somewhere around there HR experts say the negative feedback received by employers picks back up, not from mothers, but from supervisors and other tangential employees who cite too much of a disruption and confusion in the workplace.
The level of pay during maternity provided by most companies is 100% but there are some companies where that amount is less than that, but typically not by much. For companies that didn’t previously provide any maternity leave, providing a few weeks or months at sub-100% of pay is an appreciated (by mothers) step forward. Some employers give employees returning from maternity leave a stipend for child care to ease the transition back to full-time work.
Many employers have a waiting period after initial employment before benefits kick in. When this is the case, maternity leave is typically included with the rest of the benefits and not singled out for a special waiting period. As previously mentioned however, most feedback from expectant or future mothers is that they would rather work for a company with a longer waiting period for maternity leave than no maternity leave at all. Overall, the private sector is becoming more influenced by the public sector when it comes to maternity leave. A growing number of women working in the public sector have access to maternity leave, which has led to the same in the private sector.