Are you thinking about having a baby? Depending on where you live, you might be entitled to maternity leave. If you live in the United States, the amount of paid time off you get is minimal in most cases. However, an initiative led by Ivanka Trump, is hopefully going to change that. Americans think that paid leave is important, but they are divided on who should be paying for it. Should it come from the Government, or should the burden rest on the employer?
In Canada, an individual is entitled to 12 months of parental leave. That being said, the Government has recently introduced 18 month parental leave. Which sounds great, but there’s a catch. A person is eligible for 55% of their wages for 12 months. There is a cap, so not everyone is getting 55% of their wage. But for the remaining 6 months, you are only getting paid 33% of your wage, again with a cap. Which is still great news, but it is only going to benefit some people. Especially people with a two income household. How can an individual survive on 33% of their wage for six months? Yes, they might not be paying for day care, but they certainly have all the other bills to contend with.
It would also benefit people who have workplace benefits where the employer “tops up” the employee to a percentage. Maybe its 100%, but maybe its only 75%. Either way, getting paid out at 75% for 18 months is better than what the Government is offering. The problem is that many employers don’t offer this as a benefit. In fact, I would think that most of the employers who do offer this are in the “public sector”. Meaning, government, colleges, universities and school boards. It is a great benefit and would help attract better talent, but when it comes to the bottom line some private companies might not be able to afford it. Or even want to offer it.
Which brings me back to what is happening in the United States right now. There is a conversation happening about who is going to pay. As I mentioned, employers who offer paid parental leave are likely to be more attractive than those that don’t. This is also not to say that no employer currently does this. But there is no program in place to either put the cost onto an employer, or have it come from some Governmental body. Small “c” conservatives tend towards keeping a small government in terms of what they oversee. In my opinion, a small “c” conservative government wouldn’t want to foot the bill for this type of initiative. No matter how beneficial it might be.
That being said, should the employer bear the burden? If an employer is being forced (for lack of a better term) to pay for parental leave, I think we are going to start to see fewer women being employed. Discriminated against because of their gender. Maybe it already happens, but I think that more men will start to get hired. I don’t want to turn this into a gender debate. I do think that men want to take parental leave, but I also think that it tends to be more women. (Note, I think men should take the leave if they want to.. and I also understand that not all relationships are a man and a woman) And I would hate to see the negative affects that could have.
I think the cost should be divided in some way between the employer and the Government. Maybe not 50/50. Maybe a year is too long for some, and not enough for others. Parental leave plans should be flexible. They should be able to work with your situation to determine the needs for your family. I don’t necessarily have the answers, but like I always say, I’m glad to see that the conversation is starting to happen. I may have a different opinion when I see what the outcome is, but until then these are my opinions.