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Defined: Paid Parental Leave and How to Announce Changes to a Policy

Defined: Paid Parental Leave and How to Announce Changes to a Policy

As the benefits season rolls around, it’s always best practice to evaluate your organization’s current offerings to see what works, what doesn’t, and what you can do to provide better value to your team members. Use the following template and best practices to announce a change to your paid parental leave policy.


What Is Paid Parental Leave?

Paid parental leave is a type of employee leave where employers grant an extended leave of absence to teammates, typically for the birth or adoption of a child. It is sometimes referred to as maternity leave or paternity leave. 


Are Employers Required to Offer Paid Parental Leave to Employees?

There is no federal legislation in the United States that requires private employers to offer partial or fully financially reimbursed parental leave. However, it is available for federal employees.

With this said, robust parental leave policies can serve as a significant indicator of an organization’s company culture and can help boost other important human resources goals.  


Why Employers Offer Paid Parental Leave Benefits

More and more employers are offering improved benefits packages to current and prospective workers. Why? According to SHRM, “92% of employees surveyed indicated that employee benefits significantly impacted overall job satisfaction.” 

In essence, an organization's benefits package is a bargaining chip that, if optimized, can attract new employees, retain current team members, and improve the livelihood of everyone involved. As a result, many organizations have taken it upon themselves to review and refine their benefits offerings, including paid parental leave.


Different Types of Paid Parental Leave

More and more employers offer a paid parental leave policy to recruit and retain team members. However, not all policies are the same. 

Paid parental leave can vary widely in scope and scale depending on the policy and the employer. These variables can include: 

  • Effective Date: When the policy officially begins for the participating employee(s).
  • Elimination Period: The duration of time needed for the employee to be out of work before their benefits begin.
  • Benefit Duration: The length of time for the leave policy. Some may be as short at one week and others may last three months or longer. 
  • Benefit Amount: The pay rate of the employee who takes the leave. In some cases, the person's pay might be two-thirds or three-quarters of their normal rate while more generous policies offer full compensation to employees.
  • Eligible Employees: The type of employee who's eligible to receive the benefit. In some cases, paid parental leave may only be available to full-time employees (or employees who work a specified minimum number of hours per week). 
  • Administration: How the benefit will actually be delivered to employees. Some employers may work with a third-party provider to administer the benefit while others might take the policy in-house and offer it directly to employees. 


Template: How to Announce a Change to Your Parental Leave Policy

For organizations that have decided to make a change to their parental leave policy, use the following steps to announce the updates.


Step 1: Announce the Change to Your Parental Leave Policy

When communicating with your team about changes to their benefits, it’s always best to be upfront from the beginning. After all, aside from payroll, benefits administration is often the highest expense for most organizations. In essence, it’s essential that you get these kinds of communications correct. 

In journalism, this tactic is sometimes depicted as an inverted pyramid to demonstrate that the most important information is presented first—the who, what, when, where, why, and how. 

Consider the following example:

Changes to [Organization]’s Paid Parental Leave Policy

In an ongoing effort to optimize and strengthen the team’s benefits options, we’re

pleased to announce that [Organization] will internally administer a maternity benefit

to our employees, which was previously offered by [Provider] under the Short Term

Disability benefit.

You’ve already explained what change was made, why it was made, and how it will be made. Now, dive a little further into the details.


Step 2: Include What's New and When to Expect the Change with the Parental Leave Policy 

If possible, be sure to announce this change well in advance of the open enrollment period to give your team members ample time to adjust their budgets accordingly. 

Team members can expect this change to take effect during our renewal on [date].

Next, break down the changes so that each is clearly and concisely communicated. You don’t need to include all of the relevant details, as a simple CTA to contact their HR manager will suffice. 

Consider the following example, with sample details filled out for each category:

What’s New

The following changes will be made to the benefit: 

Effective Date: Date of the child’s birth
Elimination Period: None
Benefit Duration: 90 days
Benefit Amount: 100% of salary (assuming 40-hour workweek for hourly employees)
Eligible Employees: All full-time employees
Administration: Benefits will be administered internally, meaning employees will continue to receive their normal paycheck through payroll


Step 3: Summarize and Conclude the Parental Leave Change Announcement

Finish your communication with a final sentence or two detailing exactly what the change means for employees:


For a standard delivery, no claim would need to be filed to [Provider] and no benefit would be paid. [Organization] will handle both the administration and payment internally.

At the bottom of the message, consider including contact information in case team members have additional questions about the change and what it means for their benefits package.


Step 4: Make the New Parental Leave Policy Easily Available 

It's important to get these steps right. Every benefit and communication of that benefit can add to your company culture in the short and long term.

Likewise, make sure to include the new policy information in your Culture Guide (or employee handbook) to ensure that it's easily available for all employees. A robust HRIS empowers you to share this information and store it for streamlined employee access, meaning HR doesn't have to retrieve the policy every time a team member asks about it. 



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