Gender Gap Persists in Parental Leave

In The News

By Martin Berman-Gorvine

The EEOC says it’s OK for employers to offer women in pregnancy and childbirth more leave for medical reasons, she said.

Parental leave should be offered “in an equitable fashion across the genders,” while allowing for the medical aspects of pregnancy and childbirth, Jeff Hayes, program director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 27. Employers can help by offering temporary disability insurance to help women through childbirth, especially if the organization is on a single-bucket, paid time off leave policy, he said.

The Bloomberg BNA survey found that among those employers with PTO systems as opposed to traditional, categorized types of leave, the prevalence of both paid and unpaid maternity leave is slightly higher. That is, new mothers can expect more weeks of leave under a traditional system than under a PTO program. (The proportion of employers with traditional leave systems in the survey was 60 percent, against 38 percent with a PTO system, and 1 percent offering unlimited leave.)

“Companies sort of ratchet down the total days when they convert to a PTO system,” Hayes said. “My guess is that once it’s all in PTO, people think of it all as vacation” and therefore tend to take fewer days of sick leave and the like.

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