In general, parental leave has a long way to go in the United States. Congressional research into employer-provided paid family leave suggests that as of March 2017, a measly 13 percent of all American workers had access to such policies.
That number varied a bit by occupation; for instance, 24 percent of management and professional workers enjoy paid family leave, while only seven percent of service workers have access to the same benefits. These discrepancies point out that experiences with paid parental leave vary greatly across the country.
To further explore how much maternity and paternity leave U.S. companies offer, Quill conducted an original survey between Feb. 14 and 16. The survey collected responses to 10 questions on the Google Opinion Rewards app. Here, we’ll present an overview of our key findings.
Exploring parental leave at U.S. companies
The qualifying survey question (“Does your company offer new parent leave for childbirth or adoption?”) drew 2,790 respondents. Of those, 21.6 percent said their company offers new parent leave for childbirth or adoption, while 26.2 percent reported that their company does not.
Participants were all U.S.-based men and women and fell into three different age groups: 25 to 34; 35 to 44; and 45 to 54. The majority (65.8 percent) of respondents work for a large company, which was defined as a business with 250 or more employees. More men than women worked for a large company, while more women than men worked for small- or medium-sized companies.
Among the respondents whose companies offer maternity or paternity leave, these were some of the most notable takeaways:
The most common length of paid maternity or paternity leave was four to six weeks.
This, reported by 26.6 percent of respondents, was also the most common length of paid paternity leave, although 17 percent of respondents reported that their company does not offer paid paternity leave at all.
While four to six weeks was the most common length of parental leave, it certainly wasn’t the only option. Some companies offer fewer than four weeks or even fewer than two weeks of paid parental leave, while others offer eight weeks or more.
A slight majority of companies pay employees 100 percent of their salaries during maternity leave, while approximately half of companies pay the same amount during paternity leave.
A little more than half (55 percent) of respondents shared that their company pays employees 100 percent of their salaries during maternity leave. Meanwhile, half of respondents said their company pays employees 100 percent of their salaries during paternity leave. The vast majority (78.1 percent) of respondents reported that the amount of paid parental leave does not depend on whether they are considered the primary or secondary caregiver.
Extended paid leave is an option for many people.
Many respondents shared that they are offered extended paid leave for certain circumstances, including C-section delivery, premature birth, or the birth of multiple children at once. This was generally true regardless of respondents’ ages. Approximately 18 percent of respondents said they did not have extended paid leave options.
Upon returning to work, many respondents enjoy flexible hours.
A significant number of respondents shared that their employers offer new parents flexible hours when they return to work. This flexibility may take several forms. The most common option (reported by 49.6 percent of respondents) was shifted work hours. Nearly one third (32.2 percent) were offered work-from-home days, and 26.6 percent reported having the option to work fewer hours. These benefits aren’t available to everyone, however. Approximately 10 percent of respondents shared that they did not have access to flexible work options upon returning from leave.
More than half of female respondents have access to a dedicated lactation or wellness room.
A little more than 56 percent of female respondents said their workplace offers a dedicated lactation or wellness room. According to federal law, employers with more than 50 employees “must provide break time and a place for most hourly wage-earning and some salaried employees (nonexempt workers) to express breast milk at work.” Not only must employers provide a “reasonable” amount of time, they must also provide a private space other than a bathroom. Check out the Employee’s Guide to Breastfeeding and Working for breastfeeding and pumping support as well as tips to discuss pumping options with your supervisor, wellness program director, and/or employee human resources officer.
While this survey has its limitations, it suggests that a significant number of Americans have access to parental leave policies at work—and a significant number do not. Among those who do have parental leave, the terms of that leave may vary widely. Nevertheless, it’s heartening to see that a significant percentage of Americans enjoy robust parental leave policies at work.