The Benefit of Maternity Leave in the Workplace
Last updated: August 13, 2012 by Susan
America is the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee compensation for mothers along with mandatory parental leave. In fact, we are one of only three countries in the entire world that don’t mandate parental leave. This puts us in league with Papua New Guinea and Swaziland – and not in a good way.
But what exactly can maternity leave do for the employer? Simple: the attraction and retention of highly qualified workers
US accounting firm Ernst & Young is one company that doles out a generous 12 weeks of paid leave and 10 weeks of unpaid leave right when a mother gives birth or decides adopt a child.
A different study showed that our own government could shave off as much as $50 million a year simply by offering paid leave. This money can be preserved by reducing the significantly more expensive costs of screening, hiring and retraining replacements for the new mothers that they fired simply for giving birth.
And when you look at the big picture, giving moms a couple weeks of leave has a massive socio-cultural effect as well.
Mothers are able to bond with their children right after birth; establishing the foundations for trust at an age when their infants need them the most. The children will know their mothers are there and will thus develop in a much more secure environment than when they get passed along to strangers with no one there to answer to their cries.
All this isn’t just based on conjecture. Australia recently implemented a paid parental leave scheme in 2009 for 18 weeks of paid leave following birth or adoption. The study concluded with three main results: better child and maternal health, stimulation of women’s labor force participation and the advancement of broad social objectives.1
Sure, your employer might argue that firing a mother and getting someone to replace her right when she leaves is cheaper. Let that employer check how much he/she spends on finding, screening and training that employer to match the mother’s skill.
Your boss will eventually find granting paid and unpaid leave much more appealing – even if your boss has a heart of stone and only seeks profits at the end of the day.
- Source: An Executive’s Guide to Parental Leave Policy, Published Sunday 12 of August: 2012-08-12 [↩]