How to Advocate for Your PAID Parental Leave

How to Advocate for Your PAID Family Leave

June 2, 2023

In this podcast episode we discuss how to advocate or negotiate for your paid parental leave. Both parents truly need paid parental leave provided by their employer if not the government. Although we share stories and perspectives as the role of the birthing mother we both believe that both parents and adoptive parents need paid leave as well. We need to negotiate and advocate for our families and our fellow coworkers time to heal and bond as a family postpartum. 

Sara Strom has been able to put two different paid parental leave policies in place with two different employers during her two different pregnancies. She approached the dilemma of not having any paid leave policy in place as a problem to solve versus something to accept and suffer through. Sara says, “I went through asking for it in a very specific process and put together a business case.” She highlights that it is the most proud moment of her career to date. That this is a legacy that she is leaving in her wake for other families to have too. 

“It is probably the proudest moment in my entire career. I can think of a lot of things I am proud of like, moving up title wise, getting pay increases, taking on additional responsibility. Advocating for paid family leave and then receiving that is definitely the most proud moment. Mostly because it impacts others and it is a legacy that I am leaving behind for women in men that now get to take that too.”

What does Parental Leave in America look like today?

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not provide any paid parental leave. There are so many benefits to families when a paid family leave is provided to both parents. But it also benefits the business, “workers without paid leave access are more likely to leave their jobs. And constantly searching for, hiring, and training replacements costs serious money and hurts productivity.” – The Skimm Currently in America there is no paid family leave and you can take up to only 12 weeks unpaid leave.

Two out of three mothers are “breadwinners” or the primary income for families. Majority of families need both parents’ incomes to survive, feed their children, pay their rent or mortgage and meet their basic needs. 75% of women would not have any cash savings left after eight weeks of unpaid leave. About 15% of the population in America are families living below the poverty line and this continues to increase year over year. And did you know? 66% of families rely on the mother’s income to survive and 82% of American families are dual income families and need incomes to survive. Which means, that if mothers or the birthing parent is taking an unpaid leave they will not survive… this explains the reason so many mother’s head back to work bleeding after only two weeks.

How Do I Negotiate My PAID Parental Leave?

  1. Research & Gather Information for your Case
    • Research and collect the statistics that support your case.
    • Approach it from the lens of the business. How will this benefit the business? Like, it is a tool for them to attract and retain the best talent out there. 
    • Women who have paid leave return to their job at 93%!!! When women have a paid leave they are more loyal and the company’s retention skyrockets. 
  2. Write a Business Case
    • Collect the benefits to the business. Think like a CEO! You have to think like a CEO and put together a business case for why paid parental leave is so critical and important. Consider things like: facts & statistics, information about competitors’ leave policies, how does the company benefit from this?
    • Collect the benefits to your family
    • This is a major medical event that you will need to heal from.
    • Include competitor companies paid parental leave. The Skimm #showusyourleave has built a database of almost 600 companies and what their paid parental leave policies are. 
    • The Skimm has a customizable proposal and powerpoint deck and talk track on how to talk about your case to your human resources.
  3. Examples of Things to Ask for…
    • 16+ weeks of fully paid leave for birthing parents
    • 10+ weeks of fully paid leave for non-birthing parents 
    • Low to no tenure requirement to qualify for this leave (0-6 months)
    • Guaranteed 80% – 100% OTE comp for sales reps who take leave
    • Backup childcare
    • Phase back-to-work program that lets new parents work part-time at full pay for their first month back at work after parental leave 
    • Flexible WFH environment 
  4. Present or Pitch a Business Case or a New Paid Parental Leave Policy
    1. Gather co-workers signatures (both men and women!) to support your case. There is power in numbers. See if you can band together with other employees in putting together a proposal.
    2. Ask your Human Resources to update their policy!
    3. Get creative! We all deserve a full year of paid family leave but it is okay to be okay with something better than nothing and progress is progress!

It is IMPORTANT that BOTH parents take their FULL paid parental leave.

Taking a Paid Family Leave for both parents is a MAJOR MEDICAL EVENT not a vacation. The birthing parent will still need physical and mental support not only the baby for 6-12 weeks postpartum. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two years minimum for breastfeeding and this is truly only possible if both parents take and have a paid parental leave. When both parents receive a paid family leave it helps to minimize the gap and gender pay gap and inequality for women in the workforce.

Did you know that, one in four women go back to work two weeks postpartum? That is insane! Most breeders and veterinarians agree that 8 weeks of age is a good minimum for a puppy to go to its new home and be separated from their mother’s. This separation is happening when postpartum working mother’s leave their babies too. Somehow in America we prioritize the bond and breastfeeding relationship of our newborn puppies more than our mother’s and babies. This needs to change and you can be the change.

Here are the FACTS

  • The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not mandate paid family leave.
  • Federal law mandates that employees be offered 12 weeks of unpaid leave after a child is born, but all that does is legally protect your job and not every company qualifies for FMLA.
  • A reported one in four women in the country go back to work two weeks after giving birth, according to the advocacy group Paid Leave US (PL+US).
  • 2019 study showed that two-thirds (66%) of mothers are either breadwinners or co-breadwinners for their families. The percentage of breadwinning mothers has doubled since the 1970s.
  • A new study by “Breeze” shows that 74% of women wouldn’t have any cash savings left after 8 week of unpaid maternity leave.
  • study by the Center for Women and Work found that women who take paid leave are 93% more likely to be in the workforce nine to 12 months after a child’s birth than those who take no leave. When Google expanded its paid parental leave policy from 12 to 18 weeks in 2007, the retention rate of women post-maternity-leave jumped by 50%. Accenture found that attrition among mothers dropped by 40% when the company extended its paid maternity leave from eight to 16 weeks.
  • Earlier this year the City of Houston, TX passed 12 weeks of paid parental leave for 22,000 city employees.
  • The City of Minneapolis just released the same news a couple of weeks ago.
  • For companies that say that they “can’t afford” to pay employees for parental leave, consider that the cost of losing an employee (hiring/recruiting and training the replacement) can range from 50% – 400% of that employee’s annual salary.
  • Many daycare facilities won’t accept infants until they are 12 weeks old.
  • Returning to work unfortunately ends breastfeeding / pumping journeys for many working mothers (forcing them to move to formula)

Here are some Resources…

If you don’t ask for it, you definitely won’t get it!


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