Eat My Dust, Policymakers: Take Family Leave Policy Changes into Your Own Hands

Last year, the Department of Labor created the #LeadOnLeave campaign to encourage states to re-assess their family leave policies and provide paid leave. Some states and cities have taken note and adjusted their policies.

Most of the arguments for paid leave are to move the government to modify the policy, which would mandate organizations to change. But why wait for a government policy when companies have the ability to change their own policy? Yes, we’re constrained by what we can’t do according to the law – currently that means not terminating employment for women who take up to twelve weeks off. And of course a government policy would force companies to make the change. But we don’t look to the government to give us guidelines on our workplace dress code, hours, corporate structure, marketing strategies, recruitment, or other important parts of our businesses. The United States government has done some incredible things over the past 200+ years…but speed was never one of them, especially with today’s polarized branches.

Some companies have already taken matters into their own hands. Google is one of the more well-known companies with a very friendly family leave policy. There are also some unexpected companies with generous family leave policies too, like Ernst & Young, Cisco, and HP. Surprisingly, these are companies in male-dominated industries. 

I know there are a million things HR is working on, and this is one more thing. But I don’t think that the fact that the government doesn’t require it is an excuse. There is plenty of research supporting the argument for paid leave. And I’m all about marrying benefits that work in both favors - the workforce and the organization. To name a few useful resources:

  • John Oliver frames a convincing argument:

This post is to urge you at the position you’re in to affect change within your own company rather than tackling change at the macro level which will likely take years, if ever. I’m not hopeless in our government, I just believe that in this instance, we don’t necessarily need them. 

Lexi Gordon is a Lead Consultant for exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps organizations build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

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