The Family Benefits Bundle: Family Transitions

This section shares ways employers can support employees as they welcome a child into their life, return to work after an extended leave or experience other major transitions, such as moving, military service, marriage or divorce.

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November 11, 2022

Employers can play a key role in retaining and supporting the well-being of employees with parenting and caregiving responsibilities, and bringing those who left the workforce back, by offering needed, inclusive benefits that support the diverse experiences of employees and their families.

Whether family changes are welcomed, distressing or come with mixed emotions, transitions can be difficult to navigate and impact employee well-being and productivity. This section shares ways employers can support employees as they welcome a child into their life, return to work after an extended leave or experience other major transitions, such as moving, military service, marriage or divorce.

Welcoming a Child

Paid parental leave is a top benefit new parents want and need. Evidence suggests paid family leave can decrease infant mortality rates, increase vaccination rates, extend breastfeeding duration, increase return-to-work likelihood, and reduce the risk of postpartum depression. According to Ovia Health’s recent survey, nearly half (45%) of new parents indicated that parental leave benefits were difficult to understand and access, and 76% indicated parental leave preparation would have been helpful. Moreover, parents had access to less paid parental leave than they needed—59% took 2 months or more of unpaid parental leave. 

Table 3.1: Benefits for Welcoming a Child

BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
Breast pump 100%
24-hour access to a Certified Lactation Counselor 33%
Short-term disability for medical-maternity leave (fully paid by employer, not voluntary benefit) 93%
 Parental leave (partially or fully paid) 88%
Additional leave for more than 1 child (e.g., twins) <5%
Non-parental/caregiver leave for other family members (e.g., new grandparents or uncles/aunts) 7%
Digital tool/app for newborn care 42%
Intranet page/hub with all parenting resources and information 48%
Parental leave checklist to help employees and teams prepare for a leave 54%
Conversation guide for managers and employees before a parental leave 30%
Parental leave coverage plan template 19%
BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
Dedicated leave coordinator and/or leave navigation 43%
Regular leave webinars/training for employees and/or managers 9%
Leave calculator to help parents maximize time away or pay 7%
Leave-sharing/donation program 9%
Baby bonus (cash for new child) <5%
Shower for all expecting parents 9%
Congratulatory gift (e.g., letter/note while on leave, baby book(s), onesie with company logo) 37%
Death benefits (spouse and/or child receive financial support from employer) 33%
Assistance with naming a guardian 36%
Estate planning/will or trust preparation 46%
Sources: 2021 Family Benefits Quick Survey, 2022 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, 2018 Parental Benefits, Supports & Perks Quick Survey

 

Best Practices for Managers

  • Congratulate the employee on their pregnancy and/or new child, as appropriate.
  • Find out at what point the employee wishes to share the news with others.
  • Provide the employee with any company resources, policies or checklists.
  • Allow time off and flexible schedules for appointments.
  • Discuss plans for leave start and return dates.
  • Do not share any concerns about arranging coverage or budgets.
  • Identify if any reasonable accommodations are needed.
  • Make arrangements for coverage and communicate plans with the employee, including them in decisions whenever possible. This responsibility should be the manager’s—not the employee’s.
  • Ask the employee about contact during parental leave (many find it helpful to be kept aware of workplace changes and invited to social events).
  • If in any doubt, consult your HR team.

The Expanding Role of Men in Parenting and Caregiving

Men are taking on more caregiving and household responsibilities than ever before. According to the Pew Research Center, fathers spend, on average, 7 hours a week on child care—almost triple the time they provided in 1965. A 2021 study found Black and White men value and fulfill their parenting and caregiving responsibilities similarly, helping to dispel the harmful myth of the “absent Black father,” an idea perpetuated by structural racism. In fact, Black fathers (88%) are more likely than White fathers to think it’s very important to provide direct care to younger children, such as feeding, dressing or providing childcare.1

To support all male employees in their parental and caregiving roles, employers not only need to offer family leave to men, but they also need to encourage men to take it while ensuring that the company culture is supportive. Only 36% of male employees use all available parental leave.2 However, when dads do take parental leave, good things happen—men who take parental leave are glad they did and would do so again, notice improvement in their relationship with their partner, develop what they describe as a “special” bond with their child, and discover a newfound appreciation for their employer.3

Fathers Indicate It’s Very Important for Dads to Do These Parenting Duties 
Figure 3.1: Fathers Indicate It’s Very Important for Dads to Do These Parenting Duties

Source: New America’s A Portrait of Caring Black Men, 2021

Countries Around the World Beat the U.S. in Paid Parental Leave

Countries Around the World Beat the U.S. in Paid Parental Leave

Sources: OECD Family Database, Table PF2.1.A, 2018, Leave for Parents, 2021.

Large employers with global locations must navigate significant challenges to establish a program with globally consistent principles. Knowledge of current leave requirements, market practices (including cultural considerations) and existing company leave policies provide the foundation for developing a global framework and establishing key tenets to guide country-by-country variations for implementation.

According to the Business Group 2020 Leave Strategy and Transformation Survey, 19% of large employers with a global presence indicated that they have a global leave policy and another 19% were working on a policy or considering implementing one.  

Popular Leaves Covered in Global Leave Policies

Thinking of developing a global leave policy? Here are some considerations from leave experts at Aon:

  • Do you require market data to develop a business case?
  • How will you get other pertinent groups—rewards, well-being, benefits & HR strategy, diversity & inclusion—involved and on board?
  • Which approach will you take – country-by-country benefits or a consistent global approach?
  • If you are expanding leave, how will you allocate resources to cover those out on leave?
  • What types of cost modeling will be required? For example, actuarial analysis and/or factoring in all monetary implications across all time-away categories?

Returning to Work

Returning to work after a parental leave (or other extended leave) is a process that can take a toll on parents physically and emotionally. Many employees feel guilty, overwhelmed, tired and excited. A supportive workplace with flexibilities, such as gradual return-to-work schedules, and managers who encourage employees to be kind to themselves and appropriately reset expectations during this transition can help improve the employee experience.

82% of parents return to previous employer after their leave. 18% of employees who left was because of expensive childcare. 44% of parents that left said their employer could have done things to keep them.

Source: 2021 Ovia Health The Future of Family Benefits Survey

Table 3.2: Benefits for Return to Work After a Parental Leave

BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
Gradual return-to-work schedule (even better with full pay) 28%
Parental leave checklist to help employees and teams reintegrate after a leave 24%
Flexible work schedule 78%
Predictable work hours for hourly employees 17%
Hybrid work (e.g., 3 days in workplace, 2 days telework) 44%
Remote work (full-time telework) 26%
Return-to-work guidance/resources/training for managers 20%
Paid break time to pump (unpaid—required by ACA; paid—better) 78%
Permanent, dedicated space to pump (a clean, private space is required by ACA; permanent dedicated space is better) 96%
          Refrigerator or access to a
          refrigerator to store milk
          (with freeze section to freeze
          ice packs)
60%
          Sign-up system (online or via
          posted sheet)
64%
          Comfortable seating 80%
          Comfortable temperatur 42%
          Natural/soft lighting 51%

Sources: 2021 Family Benefits Quick Survey, 2022 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, 2020 Supporting Employees with School-Aged Children During the Pandemic Quick Survey, 2018 Parental Benefits, Supports & Perks Quick Survey

BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
          Calming decor and artwork 42%
          Full-length mirror 20%
          Clock 44%
          Access to electrical plugs 76%
          Hooks to hang attachment
          kit bags
42%
          Bulletin board for notices and
          photos of mothers and babies
22%
          Multi-user hospital grade
          breast pumps
16%
          A sink with hot and cold
          running water
49%
          Microwave for sterilization 20%

          Access to pregnancy and
          breastfeeding education
          materials, contact
          information for lactation
          consultants and information
          on events and classes 

62%
          Daily cleaning regimen
          provided by company
31%
          Breastfeeding support group 21%
Travel kits/shipping services during business travel 23%
On-site health clinic 44%
New parent mentoring/career coaching 17%
No required travel for new parents policy <5%
Return-to-work bonus  <5%

For more information on Parental Leave, visit the Business Group's Parental Leave FAQs.

Best Practices for Managers

  • Congratulate the employee on new child, as appropriate.
  • Give consideration to flexibilities, such as part-time return-to-work, telework and flexible hours.
  • Provide the employee with any company resources, policies or checklists.
  • Allow time off and flexible schedules for appointments.
  • Identify if any reasonable accommodations are needed.
  • Ensure reasonable break time is provided for nursing birth parents in accordance with company policy and ACA requirements.
  • Be flexible when reviewing requests and remember that people’s feelings and circumstances can and do change once a child arrives.
  • Don’t assume the employee can “pick up where they left off.”
  • If in any doubt, consult your HR team.

To learn more about ways to provide work coverage during for a parental leave or other extended leave, review the Business Group’s Strategies for Leave Coverage.

General Mills' Maternity and Parental Leave Planning Guide

General Mills’ Maternity and Parental Leave Planning Guide shares step-by-step instructions on how employees should plan for their leave and actions they’ll need to take after their child arrives, FAQs about the leave process, and helpful resources, like a checklist of key contacts and to-do items.

Major Life Changes: Marriage, Divorce, Military Service and More

Major life events that impact the entire family can affect employee well-being and productivity. Employers can step up to provide needed compassion during these moments that matter and support employees, spouses and dependents practically and emotionally through the stressful time.

Table 3.3: Benefits for Life Changes

BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
Financialguidance/assisstance (e.g., relevant to marriage and divorce) 42%
Coverage for pre-marital and marriage counseling 34%
Assistance buying and selling homes 57%
Relocation bonus 32%
Temporary living space, such as hotel or rental home, for moving transition 60%
Financial assistance with moving expenses 70%
Assistance finding jobs for spouses and partners who move with employees 29%
Remote work (full-time) 26%
Paid military leave 90%
Special onboarding and/or re-integration program for veterans <5%
BENEFIT  LARGE EMPLOYER BENCHMARK
Paid holiday for Memorial Day 93%
Paid holiday for Veterans Day 11%
Military/veterans' ERG 62%
Veterans mentorship program <5%
Onsite EAP 35%
Telephonic EAP 96%
Teletherapy 88%
Digital cognitive behavioral therapy programs 36%
Paid time off (including PTO, vacation/sick, unlimited/permissive) 100%
Flexible schedules 78%
Sources: 2021 Family Benefits Quick Survey2022 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey2020 Supporting Employees with School-Aged Children During the Pandemic Quick Survey

 

Life Events Impact Health and Well-being

Fidelity’s research, in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity, found that common life events can have a strong impact on employee health and well-being. Moreover, Fidelity discovered that when employers offer more health, wellness and work-life benefits, employees are better able to manage stress and have better feelings about work.4

 Negative and Positive Impact of Life Events on Well-being 
Figure 3.2: Negative and Positive Impact of Life Events on Well-being

Source: Fidelity. Life Magnified: How Important Life Events Impact Total Well-being presented at: Workforce Strategy 2019; September 17, 2019; San Diego, CA.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Welcoming a Child
  2. Returning to Work
  3. Major Life Changes: Marriage, Divorce, Military Service and More