- With upgraded parental policies continuing to top HR trends this year, Harvard Business Review published a brief guide for companies looking to design a compliant and successful leave program in order to better retain employees.
- First, author Joan C. Williams suggests figuring out the maximum amount of time the company can afford to offer and then offer it to both men and women. Then, emphasize consistently that you expect everyone to take the full amount of the leave offered as part of your company’s culture.
- Williams provides four steps to creating a solid leave policy, including: Using a three-meeting model for off-ramping, having a protocol for on-ramping, designing a gradual return to work, and designating leave liaisons.
Often, poor planning derails leave-takers, according to Williams, and they may feel as though they are doing too much work prior to leaving and not enough when they return. One solution: the three-meeting model.
The first meeting takes place shortly after the employee announces they will be taking the leave, and emphasizes to the employee that they should feel comfortable taking the entirety of the leave offered. The second occurs around three months before the employee takes leave to establish what projects the leave-taker is working on and who might be suitable to take them on in the interim. The third meeting occurs as the due date or adoption date approaches, wherein final tweaks are made to the plan and it is established whether the leave-taker will be returning part-time or on a flex schedule.
One important point: employers must be careful not to step on an employee’s guaranteed FMLA time, even to establish an onboarding plan. Also, employers must be wary of treating both men and women who take leave similarly, asking them both about whether they plan to work part-time after a baby’s arrival and encouraging colleagues to offer good work to both women and men once they return to work. Otherwise, the company could get slammed for gender discrimination.