Parental leave has a major influence on workplace culture and the workforce as a whole. Having a baby is a massive life change. And it’s hard to think of any other situation – other than retirement – that takes people OUT of the workforce more.
Many professionals decide to leave their jobs and become stay-at-home-parents. Others who plan on having a baby soon often switch jobs to a different company that has more generous maternity/paternity benefits.
A new study now shows that it would be better for organizations – and the workforce as a whole – if we all offered significantly longer parental leave. And we have Canada to thank as a reference.
If U.S. businesses offered extensive parental leave policies, the nation could see up to 5 million additional workers join the labor force.
5 MILLION! So what is driving this finding? Here are a few of the key statistics and takeaways:
- There is an 8 percentage point gap between women’s labor participation rates in the U.S. and Canada, a discrepancy the researchers said is linked to the two countries’ parental leave policies. The gap in the men’s rate was 2.5 percentage points.
- “Parental leave policies in Canada provide strong incentives to remain attached to the labor force following the arrival of a new child,” as Canadian employees have job protection and continue to accrue wages and benefits while on leave
- A Canadian parent on leave maintains a continuous employment relationship, and this protection can last for up to 78 weeks in combination with existing maternal leave
And here’s the big final takeaway:
“A large pool of skilled potential workers could be encouraged to join the labor market with the right set of policies,” the paper’s authors wrote, adding that three-quarters of the discrepancy between the participation rates in the Canadian and American labor market can be attributed to the attachment of women to the workforce. “
So I’m curious how you feel about this. Would longer parental leave potentially influence you to stay with your current employer and in the workforce?