SHRM survey finds significant difference by gender in maternity and paternity paid leave

New research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows that, on average, women receive almost twice as much paid parental leave after the birth of a child as men. The Paid Leave in the Workplace Survey found that women, on average, were given 41 days of paid maternity leave compared with 22 days of paid paternity leave for men. (This is in addition to other forms of paid leave that might be available to new parents.) Perhaps not surprisingly, noted Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM, the survey showed that very few employees left any parental leave unused.

“The imbalance in parental leave indicates that organizations still expect mothers to take on the majority of care for a new child,” Esen added. “This inequity in paid-time-off days may discourage fathers from taking a similar amount of time off to care for a new child.”

Released as big-name employers are announcing increases in paid time off and paid leave legislative measures are being debated, the survey also found that the average amount of paid adoption leave was 31 days, and 36 days was the average paid surrogacy leave.
The SHRM survey also examined paid leave plans, finding that the majority of employers used employee tenure as the basis for leave offered in paid-time-off (PTO, a combination of vacation, sick and personal leave) plans and vacation plans. An employee with two years of tenure received an average of 15 days in a PTO plan and 11 days each in paid vacation and paid sick plans. Overall, paid vacation ranged from eight days to 22 days, based on employees’ length of service.

For plans that were not based on tenure, full-time employees, on average, were awarded about 18 days of PTO or 16 vacation days, 11 sick days and four personal days per year.

Full-time employees generally had to wait six weeks to nine weeks before they were eligible to take leave from PTO, paid sick and paid personal plans. Wait times were the longest — slightly more than three months — for employees with paid vacation plans. The survey also examined the following types of paid leave:

• Bereavement: On average, four days of bereavement leave were given for the death of a spouse or child.

• Sabbaticals: Generally, 132 paid days were awarded for a paid sabbatical program, and 116 days were given for an unpaid sabbatical program.

• Time off to vote: 37 percent of respondents provided paid leave beyond what is required by law.


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