Congress and the Private Sector Need to Make Family Leave a Priority
This week we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year. Working families are in a far better position today than they were 25 years ago. More companies offer paid maternity/paternity leave for their employees than ever before, and female employees’ salaries are less likely to be impacted by taking leave, but there is far more we can do.
The U.S. is the only country among 41 nations that does not mandate any paid leave for new parents, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. At Adobe, we believe that caring for yourself at home helps you be your best at work. That is why, in 2015, we went far beyond government requirements and announced changes to our family leave programs, increasing medical leave to 10 weeks and parental leave to 16 weeks, meaning women who just gave birth could take up to 26 weeks of paid leave to care for their newborn. Other key elements of Adobe’s plan include up to 10 weeks of paid time for surgery, childbirth, a medical emergency, or illness and 16 weeks of paid time for primary caregivers, allowing new parents more time to spend bonding with their children. This benefit includes moms and dads who have become parents through childbirth, surrogacy, adoption, or foster care. With America’s aging population, we have also made family care leave a priority, providing employees up to four weeks of paid time to care for a sick family member.
We made these changes because helping employees helps our business, attracts and retains female employees, supports working families, and ultimately contributes to making our workforce more diverse. We wanted to not just join but lead a movement to better support our employees while striving towards increased workforce diversity. I am very proud that Adobe and others are stepping up to drive some fundamental changes that support working families.
However, we understand that not all companies can provide family and medical leave like Adobe can. That is why Adobe supports The Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (S. 337/H.R. 947). The bill would create an affordable and self-sustaining family and medical leave insurance fund to provide workers with a portion of their wages for a limited period of time (12 weeks in a year) so the worker could address a variety of personal or family health conditions, from receiving chemotherapy to spending time with a newborn after childbirth.
It is important for employees to care for themselves and their family members. We sometimes have to reinforce the importance of taking time off. The business will continue despite the impact you make. The reality is that there will always be a critical product launch or customer meeting, but there will only be one time that you bring this new family member home with you or a time in which your attention is needed to care for a family member.
At Adobe we have seen positive results in the form of heartfelt appreciation from new parents and, most importantly, data that shows we’re retaining more employees after leave. In fact, 94% of those who took parental leave in the U.S. in 2017 returned to Adobe. If other companies, especially smaller businesses, can experience similar results thanks to the FAMILY Act, we will collectively contribute to having more women actively engage in the workforce.
Companies of all sizes and industries should take steps to expand leave policies for their employees, and Congress should find ways to help business take better care of their employees, starting by passing the FAMILY Act.