Equal Leave for All: Reimagining your Parental Leave Policies
The U.S. continues to lag behind the global community when it comes to paid maternity leave. The majority of employers offer minimal paid leave for people who give birth and relatively no paid leave for secondary caregivers. As you work to build more equitable policies in your workplace, consider reimagining your paid parental leave to support your vision for equity. Here are a few things you can do.
Shift your language to be more inclusive. The language we use around maternity and paternity leave is very gendered and perpetuates a heteronormative worldview. Even in the writing of this article, we have chosen to use the language of primary and secondary caregiver to be as gender-neutral as possible while maintaining clarity. We recognize that such language suggests that there is, and should be, one parent who is more responsible for childcare than the other, which we would argue we need to move away from if we want to be more inclusive. Our choice to use this language is not an endorsement of such beliefs but rather an acknowledgement of the need for more inclusive policies.
Offer equal time off. Support secondary parents to take the same amount of time off that you provide for maternity or primary caregiver leave. Offering only primary caregiver leave (or offering longer primary caregiver leave than other types of parental leave) continues to perpetuate the stereotype that women are expected to be the primary caregivers and that they should shoulder the responsibilities of home life. By offering partners the same amount of paid parental leave, we can actually increase support to new mothers and promote gender equality. It is a way to act in solidarity with all parents.
Offer paid parental leave to all new parents. Make sure that your policy is inclusive of all new parents, whether they are experiencing parenthood through adoption, surrogacy, fostering, or childbirth. Offering equal paid parental leave signals to our employees that we support all new parents to take the time they need to take on childcare responsibilities.
By creating an equitable paid parental leave policy, we can support new parents to focus on the health and well-being of their family, promote gender equality, and adopt a more inclusive approach to our leave policies.