The early days after a new baby joins the family are special ones. They also have far-reaching family and societal implications that are beginning to be understood on a global level, with more countries and corporations extending paid leave to both partners. While the United States has a lot of catching up to do, we are seeing more partners taking advantage of parental leave benefits each year. If your family is planning on welcoming a new baby into your family in the near-ish future it will pay to take a look at what your options are and become a part of this important time in history.
It will also pay to plan ahead and think through how you want to spend your time and what you can do to maximize the experience for your new parental role, for your partner, and for your family. To help you get started we have created a guide outlining navigating parental leave professionally and with your family.
The first thing to get really clear on is why a partner may want to consider taking leave if they are not the parent who needs time to physically recover from giving birth. Recent and ongoing research has revealed crucial benefits that parental leave has for the entire family as well as a partner’s career. Here is a quick review of five of the primary findings being examined:
If you understand the benefits and have decided to take parental leave, the next step is determining what you are legally entitled to and what other options you also have. Currently, 60% of working parents are entitled to unpaid parental leave under FMLA. This law provides for 12 weeks of leave for both parents while their position is protected, though unpaid. As you may see, it’s not the most ideal option for parents, as wages could be sacrificed and you may not be eligible. Companies with fewer than 50 employees, for instance, are not required to offer any leave at all to either parent.
Companies are becoming more progressive with each passing year and you may be one of the growing number of U.S. employees who belong to organizations that offer paid leave for working parents. After determining your company’s benefits and your FMLA eligibility, you can also explore your ability to use vacation time as a part of your parental leave.
The bottom line: it is important that you initiate discussions with your HR representative about what options and combination of options, you will have to choose from and to discuss with your partner. We will discuss the best ways to go about this below.
So, what is parental leave all about, and how can you make the most of this precious time with your family? While bonding with baby is a large part of being home, there are things that you can do to maximize your time, best support your recovering partner, and make it the best experience possible for everyone. Here are some of our top tips: