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Adoption Benefits to Boost Recruitment and Retention

Adoption Benefits to Boost Recruitment and Retention

The current job market requires organizations to find numerous ways to remain competitive or risk losing out on top talent. Adoption benefits are one small way to stand out among the competition. They can improve your retention rates, boost recruitment, and confirm your dedication to DEI efforts within your organization. 

Here’s what employers need to know about adoption benefits.


Are Adoption Benefits Required?

Employers with at least 50 employees are required by law to provide unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This includes schools, public agencies, and public and private companies as well. According to the Department of Labor (DOL), the FMLA requires that 12 weeks of unpaid leave be allotted to parents who choose to adopt

To clarify, the DOL states in Fact Sheet #28F,

FMLA leave may be taken before the actual placement or adoption of a child if an absence from work is required for the placement for adoption or foster care to proceed. For example, the employee may be entitled to FMLA leave to attend counseling sessions, appear in court, consult with his or her attorney or the birth parent's representative, submit to a physical examination, or travel to another country to complete an adoption before the actual date of placement.

Adoption leave occurring after the placement of a child must be taken within 12 months of the child's placement—or the right to FMLA leave expires. The DOL also stipulates that intermittent leave is only allowed at the employer's discretion. If an employer does not agree to an intermittent leave, then all 12 weeks must be consecutive.

Adoption leave under the FMLA does not require employers to offer paid leave and does not require it until the placement of a child. The exception is any instance where the adoption process would require the employee to be absent from work. 

Organizations need to remain aware of what is required under FMLA to stay compliant, but also to stay competitive. Offering your employees better adoption benefits can boost your DEI, retention, and recruitment efforts. 


What Should Adoption Benefits Cover?

In today's market, any benefit offering you can afford will likely help your recruitment efforts and help you remain competitive. Adoption benefits are no exception. With FMLA requiring only unpaid leave with several stipulations, there is room to leverage your benefits offerings to attract candidates who may be seeking adoption as a future possibility. 

But adoption benefits can go beyond helping only those directly seeking adoption. They can actually instill a sense of positivity and community among all employees. While not all employees will consider adopting, they will appreciate an organization's commitment to its employees’ families.

When you offer your employees paid leave to bond with their child, attend necessary medical examinations, or handle any legal matters, you show that you fully support them. 

The following is a list of benefits to consider offering as part of your adoption benefits policy:

  • Paid leave for any doctor visits or examinations

  • Reimbursement for any travel expenses incurred as a necessary part of the adoption process

  • Paid leave for bonding beyond the placement date

  • Reimbursement for specific application fees and adoption agency costs

  • Reimbursement of court costs

  • Paid leave for travel days required to complete the adoption

  • Paid leave for counseling services following the adoption

  • Reimbursement of immigration fees

The average reimbursement plan covers around 80% of the expenses—about $4,000-$5,000 per adoption. For an unlimited plan, the amount can be between $7,000-$10,000. 

While this may seem expensive, the number of employees taking advantage of this benefit will likely be low. Additionally, the expense may be well worth the value added to your retention and recruitment efforts. 


Why Should Your Organization Offer Adoption Benefits?

Offering additional adoption benefits gives you an advantage over competitors and shows your current employees that their well-being matters to you. Employees will appreciate this level of care for their personal lives and your commitment to their families. 

You also boost your DEI efforts when you offer benefits that help your employees in their personal lives outside of the office. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts are designed to create a safe environment for all representations. Many same-sex couples decide to adopt. Offering more extensive benefits can be a great way to show your employees that you support them regardless of their sexuality or sexual orientation. Research shows that by improving diversity within the workplace, organizations can boost employee morale, improve customer service, and even increase sales. 

Diversity not only strengthens the bottom line but also leads to more innovation. For example, the Center for Talent Innovation discovered that organizations with diversity amongst leadership were 60% more likely to develop ideas and 75% more likely to implement those ideas. 

Of course, adoption can affect any individual of any demographic, background, race, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. This is all the more reason to take advantage of the opportunity to offer additional benefits that go beyond FMLA. 

As you decide what benefits you wish to offer to your employees, consider the impact adoption benefits can have, not only on the select few employees who utilize them, but on the organization's retention plans, recruitment strategies, DEI efforts, and overall employee satisfaction.


Additional Resources

You can also stay informed, educated, and up-to-date with adoption benefits and other important topics by using BerniePortal’s comprehensive resources:

  • BerniePortal Blog—a one-stop-shop for HR industry news

  • HR Glossary—featuring the most common HR terms, acronyms, and compliance

  • HR Guides—essential pillars, covering an extensive list of comprehensive HR topics

  • BernieU—free online HR courses, approved for SHRM and HRCI recertification credit

  • HR Party of One—our popular YouTube series and podcast, covering emerging HR trends and enduring HR topics

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