5 Things to Consider for Instituting a Strong Parental Leave Policy

The Global Day of Parents, celebrated annually on June 1st, honours parents all over the world and recognizes the crucial role played by the family in the development of children and the health of community life. For companies, it can be a day for reflecting on how to better support their employees who are parents while improving organizational performance. A well-crafted parental leave policy is one of the key ways organizations can positively influence the experience of new parents or those expanding their families.

Research demonstrates that effective parental leave policies help to reduce parenting stress and promote working parents’ wellbeing, which in turn leads to better business performance. At the same time, such policies enhance an organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent – especially women.

Here are 5 recommendations to establish a strong parental leave policy in your organization:

  • Actively encourage men to utilize parental leave policy. It allows for better father-child bonding, a more equal distribution of household duties, and limits the “motherhood penalty”.
  • Clearly articulate parental leave expectations before an employee makes use of the policy, but also during their leave and once they return to work.
  • Consider implementing a “return to work” program that helps employees and workers re-integrate on their terms and ensure that those returning from parental leave are not overlooked for opportunities.
  • Collect data on parental leave and use these findings to improve policies/practices. Gender-disaggregated data on the use of parental leave, promotion and attrition rates post-parental leave, and qualitative data on attitudes related to parental leave can provide key insight.
  • Support parents when they return to work by implementing family-friendly practices such as adopting flexible work arrangements, providing adequate facilities for breastfeeding, and investing in solutions for quality, affordable childcare for employees.

For the last three years, Global Compact Network Canada has been developing a Blueprint for Gender Equality Leadership in the Canadian Private Sector that includes more recommendations, best practices, and resources to advance gender equality in the workplace. The Blueprint will be publicly available in October 2020.