The Importance of Paid Family Leave

Toledo area businesses provide for new parents

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, over two million women have left the workforce since February 2020. Many mothers, who were suddenly thrust into the roles of full-time teachers during pandemic shutdowns, decided not to return to work. Consequently, the participation of women in the labor force is now at a 33-year low.
Parents are now re-examining the importance of a work-life balance. Moms and dads are looking for positions with companies that offer flexible schedules, remote work possibilities, childcare support and generous parental leave benefits.

In the U.S., the Family and Medical Leave Act allows 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents, but that applies only to companies with more than 50 employees. Companies looking to attract workers are now beginning to offer paid parental leave as well as other benefits.

Impact of parental leave policies

For Meghan Gazarek, RN, BSN, IBCLC, the issue is not only a professional one, but also a personal one. Gazarek, a nurse and lactation consultant at Toledo’s Mercy St. Vincent Hospital, is expecting her fifth child this summer. She knows firsthand the impact that parental leave policies can have on families. “[With] each pregnancy, it seems more and more difficult to return to work because I realize how quickly they grow and what a special time it is to rest, recuperate and adjust to a growing family,” Gazarek ex-plains. “I am grateful to be a part-time employee and still remain eligible for parental leave. My employer recently announced that they are offering paid parental leave of eight weeks following a medical leave. This was a huge relief to me. It was very rare that I was paid in full for my time off work.”

Bonding with newborns
Gazarek has seen how FMLA can affect new moms in their bonding time
with newborns. “FMLA in the United States seems to make or break the nursing rela-
tionship,” she said. “It seems many women do not initiate breastfeeding knowing it is something they cannot maintain due to work requirements or having to return so soon. Many women perceive their job as not flexible enough to maintain an adequate pumping schedule to continue to support their milk supply. The postpartum period is such an adjustment for families, both physically and mentally, and oftentimes it seems when a routine is developed, the wrench of returning to work is thrown in far too soon.”

Company policies to support families
Gazarek would like to see more changes in company policies that would support families. “I think, in the U.S., our employer benefits could improve immensely, regarding paid parental leaves, along with improvements to current pumping laws for nursing mothers,” she explained. “Being able to establish a healthy nursing relationship really affects generations to come. It also affects how much we spend on healthcare globally. It should be a huge public health concern. Babies that are breastfed are sick less often, and that results in parents missing less work. Why wouldn’t we want to support increasing breastfeeding rates?”

She also sees the need for more support regarding childcare. “I think access to affordable childcare is also a big concern for parents. If large employers could offer more options related to parental leave, I think it would help parents out immensely.”

Amazon Fulfillment Center
Number of employees: Over 2,500. Parental benefits policy: Up to 20 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birth mothers, six weeks for adopting parents. Leave share program allows employees to give up to six weeks of paid parental leave to a spouse who is not eligible through their employer.

Ramp Back
program offers birth parents eight weeks of flexibility and partial work hours as they readjust to their new schedules. Other benefits: Access to a network of more than 2 million caregivers. Discounts on certain daycare centers. Adoption assistance. Resources for
parents of children with special needs.

The Anderson’s
Number of Employees: Over 2,000, with 800 in the Toledo area. Parental benefits policy: Offers ten consecutive weeks of paid maternity leave, or two consecutive weeks for paternity or adoption leave. Accounts for 100 percent of pay. Other benefits: Short-term disability and FMLA also available for eligible employees. Employee Assistance
Program also offers tools and resources for families regarding childcare, sup-
port, development and school-related searches.

City of Toledo
Number of employees: Over 2,600. Parental benefits policy: The city has
eight different bargaining units, as well as non-bargaining units, and benefits vary depending on the position the individual holds. In general, the city offers up to 12 weeks of leave under FMLA. Other benefits: Healthcare covers 100 percent of labor and delivery. Paid leave packages are also available.

Number of employees: Approximately 500 between the Toledo and Perrysburg locations.
Parental benefits policy: Offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave, as well as two weeks of unpaid maternity leave. Other benefits: Offers paid time off based on how long you have worked for the company.

Dana Corporation
Number of employees: 40,000 over 32 countries, with over 7,000 in Toledo. Parental benefits policy: Full-time salaried employees can receive four weeks of paid leave in the first six months after the birth of a child or the placement of an adopted child. The first two weeks are 100 percent of salary, while the second two weeks are 50 percent of salary.

Number of employees: Over 1,200 locally. Parental benefits policy: Offers paid time off to new parents, as well as unpaid time off up to 50 weeks.

Number of employees: Over 6,000 in Toledo. Parental benefits: Salaried birth mothers receive six to eight weeks short term disability. They also offer 12 weeks of paid leave for new parents. Mercy Health Number of employees: Over 8,000 in the Toledo area. Parental benefits policy: Six to eight weeks of paid medical leave, in addition to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

Owens Corning
Number of employees: Over 19,000 globally, with over 7,000 in Toledo. Parental benefits policy: Offers six to eight weeks of paid leave to new mothers, along with short-term and long-term disability coverage, flexible work arrangements. Adoption and family assistance is also offered. Other benefits: Provides two weeks paid time off for all new parents, includ-
ing fathers at the time of birth or adoption of a child.

ProMedica/ Toledo Hospital
Number of employees: More than 4,800 at The Toledo Hospital, with more than 15,000 in the 12-hospital system. Parental benefits policy: Offers four to six weeks of paid maternity leave. Mothers can also use accrued paid time off, or take unpaid time for bonding.
Other benefits: Short-term disability pays 60 percent of weekly wages for full-time employees.

Number of employees: Over 400,000 nationwide. Parental benefits policy: Paid family leave offered to team members and spouses, along with support and information for parents before delivery, during leave, and after return to work. Other benefits: Backup child care
includes 20 days of in-center childcare or in-home childcare. Maternity support program also gives access to maternity nurses.

Toledo Museum of Art
Number of employees: 0ver 200. Parental benefits policy: 12 weeks of paid leave for all new parents, including new births and adoption.

University of Toledo
Number of employees: Over 1,500 faculty, and over 4,000 staff. Parental benefits policy: Eligible employees who have worked at least twelve months and at least 1,250 hours may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Other benefits: The University maintains health coverage during leave.