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Sponsored: Four reasons NC employers should consider offering paid leave

This content is brought to you in partnership with Family Forward NC, an innovative initiative to improve children’s health and well-being and keep North Carolina’s businesses competitive. Register for the Family Forward NC Summit to learn how your business can attract and retain top talent while developing the workforce of tomorrow.    

While the United States prevails in many areas of the modern business world, it lags drastically in others. It is the only developed nation in the world and one of only a few countries with no national paid-leave policy. Only 13% of American private-industry workers have access to paid parental leave, and nearly a quarter of mothers return to work just two weeks after having a baby, according to a report from Congressional Research Service. The stats sour as you travel south: Only 11% of private-sector workers in the South Atlantic region have access to paid family leave, according N.C. Families Care, a statewide coalition focused on family-friendly workplaces.

Family Forward NC features paid-leave suggestions for businesses as part of its newly released Guide to Family Forward Workplaces, including parental leave for birth, adoption or foster placement; sick and safe leave; and family and medical leave. The guide provides research and tools for employers to implement workplace policies that have proven positive business outcomes and a positive impact on child health and well-being.

An example is Aeroflow Healthcare, a medical-equipment provider that expanded its paid maternity-leave policy from two weeks to six weeks and offers two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers. The Asheville-based company, which employs about 400 nationwide, also provides reimbursement for adoption costs of up to $5,000 per child; reimbursement of up to $300 for a birth or postpartum doula for families with a newborn, newly adopted or newly placed foster child; free breast pumps and breastfeeding supplies for eligible employees; and one year of free diapers for the first year of a child’s life or from the date of adoption or foster placement.

Here are four reasons N.C. employers should consider offering paid leave for parents:

1. Increased productivity. Of more than 1,500 human resource officers surveyed by Ernst and Young in 2016, 71% said paid family leave positively impacted productivity, and 82% reported improved employee morale. 

2. Improved recruitment and reduced turnover costs through increased retention. 86% of U.S. millennials, which now make up the greatest percentage of the workforce, say they are less likely to leave an employer that offers paid parental leave, according to Unum, a Tennessee-based insurance company.

3. Increased likelihood that new mothers — and fathers — will come back to work and stay employed. “I haven’t felt the need to look for something else, and I have a lot of friends who are mothers and, depending on their employer, they are looking elsewhere, or they have to leave their job completely, which means they don’t get to follow their career path,” says Megan Prestridge, a mom and breastpump specialist at Aeroflow Healthcare. “I feel like [Aeroflow] values me, and I feel like they value me as an employee and as a mom.”  

4. Improved overall health and wellness of parents and children. Paternal leave of at least six months for mothers and two weeks for fathers significantly lowers a mother’s risk of postpartum depression and anxiety and increases paternal engagement in caregiving through a child’s life, according to Working Mother magazine.

If you’re looking for a way to make your North Carolina business smart, family friendly and future ready, Family Forward NC can help. Check out their blog and employer guide, attend the Family Forward NC Summit, sign up for their newsletter, or follow them on social media for more helpful tips from the experts.

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