One of the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act is that companies, which have fifty or more employees, should provide each worker with up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave. This leave is applicable to families that have just had a child either through birth or adoption, or for family illnesses. Employees who take unpaid time off to take care of a sick relative or a newborn child are entitled to receive unemployment pay (Knox and Schacht 410). This Act is does not include a large part of the population since there are many people who work in small firms with less than fifty employees. Different companies have developed their own family friendly policies, some of which exceed the government’s regulations. Parents need to create a bond with their newborns. This can be very influential in determining how the child will develop. Arnold and Porter, a law firm based in Washington has a family friendly policy, which not only ensures that parents have enough time with their children, but that they are also provided for. The law firm grants eighteen weeks off fully paid leave to mothers who have just had a baby through adoption or birth. It grants the dad six weeks of fully paid leave (Finnigan).
It surprised me that America is one of the few countries that do not guarantee paid leave to employees. This was especially surprising after examining some policies, which ensure that parents get their full salary while on leave. The other thing that surprised me was the length of time offered for parental leave. In some countries, parents could take a one-year leave of fully paid leave and still go back to their jobs. One of the things that I had not considered was the childcare offered in some companies. Although America does not have a national childcare policy, some companies took the initiative of providing childcare to their employees. Although the companies are gaining economically by reducing absenteeism and the rate of employee turnover, they are also giving parents, who do not want to take a long time off work the chance to continue working. Some of the companies such as Discovery Communication had impressive policies. The company’s childcare policy offers childcare and educates one hundred children of its employees (Finnigan).
Employers want to avoid unnecessary costs at all means. They will therefore do anything to keep their skillful employees. Absenteeism and high turnover rates are some of the costs that they have to deal. When employees resign from their positions so that they can take care of their families, employers have to deal with additional costs when they are recruiting and hiring new employees. In a bid to avoid this, many employers have designed attractive work-family policies and programs. Since they want to retain their employees, employers ensure that their programs exceed the government and employees’ expectations. They will offer additional services to parents who need childcare. They will ensure that their programs are flexible and will offer incentives such as the option of working at home or near home (Finnigan). One of the disadvantages of employer-based policies is that it only serves a small part of the population. Well designed government based policies usually include everyone and companies are expected to follow the set guidelines.
Some of the policies and programs only grant leaves to mothers. This leaves out the fathers and it denies them the chance to spend more time with their children. Some states have allowed same sex marriages and the partners are allowed to adopt children. Such policies will negatively affect male partners. In some cases, the woman is the main source of income in the home. Policies, which do not guarantee paid leave, leave such families in a poor economic situation. The positive side of these policies is that the work of parenting is not left to the mother alone. Fathers are offered leave and this means that they can take on parental responsibility and assist the mothers in the home.
Finnigan Annie. Parental Leave at Best Companies 2010. 2011. Web. 14 April 2011.
Finnigan Annie. Childcare at the Best Companies 2010. 2011. Web. 14 April 2011
Finnigan Annie. Flexibility at Best Companies 2010. 2011. Web. 14 April 2011
Knox, David, and Caroline Schacht. Choices in Relationships: An Introduction to Marriage and the Family. New York, NY: Cengage Learning, 2009. Print