Viewpoint: Drafting a Parental Leave Policy that Won’t Get You Sued

Last year Estée Lauder was sued on the allegation that its
parental leave policies were discriminatory against men. Evidence states that
the noted skincare/fragrance company gave new mothers six weeks of paid
parental leave and leave for recovery for childbirth, while new fathers only
received two weeks of paid parental leave. On top of that mothers were allowed
return-to-work benefits, not offered to fathers.

If you’re considering creating or revamping your own
parental leave policy consider these tips:

You choose eligibility requirements

As an employer, you have the right to set
eligibility for parental leave benefits, which does not have to be provided on
the first day of employment. In fact, Estée

Lauder requires at least three
months’ service time and many other employers require 12 months of service.

Moms Vs. Dads

Giving women who just gave birth a longer
parental leave is not against the law. New parents (regardless of their gender)
are guaranteed six weeks of parental leave. It is acceptable (and expected) to
give new mothers a longer recovery. However recovery from childbirth and
bonding from childbirth are two different things.

 Employers cannot treat each sex different
regarding bonding leave. Employers need to carefully distinguish between
physical limitations imposed by pregnancy or childbirth (recovery leave) and
leave for purposes of bonding with a child or providing care for that child
(bonding leave).

Parents getting busy don’t get extra

In the event that a person has multiple
childbirths or adoptions in one year, employers do have the right to limit
benefits over a period of time.

Exhausting other paid leave prior to parental
leave is legal.

Employers can require employees to use
vacation/sick/PTO benefits before collecting parental leave pay, though this
practice does tend to lower employee morale. 

Converge HR Solutions, we can assist your company in understanding all legal
processes and policies. We provide premier HR solutions that are cost effective
and relevant to your company. If you would like to learn more about our
products and services please visit our website or
contact us directly by email at
we can also be reach by phone at 610-296-8550.


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