The Awesome Pregnancy Perk A Start-Up Company Offers

Pregnant woman in an office

With so many American companies offering splashy office perks and work benefits to recruit and retain top talent, it’s surprising we’re still the only developed country in the world that hasn’t made paid parental leave a standard benefit. In fact, most startups that fall below the threshold of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) don’t provide parental leave — paid or unpaid — until an employee explicitly asks for it.

For startups that have avoided adopting a parental leave policy because of cost, profitability or performance concerns, it’s time to reconsider, and here are five good reasons why it could help your company make its mark on the world.

If you’re pregnant and working in an office whose dress code isn’t stretchy yoga pants-friendly, your bank account will take a hit. Business maternity clothes aren cheap. One dress can cost hundreds of dollars, and thats just one outfit.To help pregnant women afford professional attire, Domo, a Utah-based computer software start-up, is offering expecting employees up to $2,000 to spend on maternity clothes.

The mom will receive gift cards to Nordsroms, ASOS and A Pea in the Pod to basically go on a shopping spree to find new work-appropriate clothing that’s also comfortable.This innovative policy started about a year ago when Domo CEO Josh James’ assistant became pregnant. James quickly realized the struggle she was facing to continue to dress professionally while dealing with a changing body.

The CEO tells People, “I’ve always believed that if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good. We want our expectant employees to be able to treat themselves, and buy clothes that make them feel great.” And while the stipend may just be a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference.

Domo employee and mother of two Erica Bartsch was one of the first women to take advantage of this benefit. She tells Fortune, “Pregnancy is an awkward time for your body. You’re doing this wonderful and amazing thing while going through so many changes the image of what you have in your head is not reflected in the mirror. The benefit made me confident about what I was putting on.”

That’s not the only way this company is supporting working parents. They also have a paternity leave policy which gives new dads two weeks off fully paid (which may not seem much compared to the Netflix’s of the world, but keep in mind this is a very small start-up company,) and gives new parents a $1,000 “baby bonus.

Not every company can afford to offer Netflix-level year-long maternity leaves. In fact, even Netflix doesn’t offer that benefit to all of its workers. Still, there are creative ways to give perks to new moms.

Domo, a 5-year-old startup based in Utah with a workforce of 600 employees, came up with something pretty innovative. Every pregnant woman at the company gets $2,000 in gift cards to buy maternity clothes, according to an article by Claire Zillman in Fortune.  If you’ve ever had to go to work in an office while pregnant, you will instantly understand why this is awesome.

For those of you who haven’t, here’s the deal: No one really wants to spend/waste money on maternity clothes — you only need them for a very limited amount of time and they are expensive. Most of us just sort of muddle through, buying a few things, borrowing a lot of things and making do with stuff in our closet that is stretchy or big.

That’s fine when you’re home on the weekends, but it’s a big bummer at the office, where you want to maintain a professional appearance and often wind up donning some pretty weird garments. Like, oh I don’t know, a maternity shirt your cousin wore in the 1990s with a bow at the collar that seems like an OK idea in the morning but makes you feel like a sad, old Christmas present. (That may be something I know about firsthand.)

Domo’s chief executive came up with the idea for the perk after his assistant became pregnant, Zillman told Fortune.  The company, which helps other businesses manage their data, doesn’t offer Cadillac-level maternity leave. You get one month at full pay and then six weeks at partial pay. Five or six people have used the clothing benefit so far, Fortune reports.

Would more paid leave probably be preferable to a new wardrobe? Yes, sure. Still, the gift cards are a nice idea and certainly signal to employees that they’re valued at a time that can feel very uncertain to a lot of women. And small signals like that add up, making employees more loyal to companies, which are then less likely to have to train new workers because their current ones stick around. It’s a win-win — and nobody has to dress like a Christmas present.

What does the United States have in common with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea? We are one of only three countries in the world that does not mandate paid maternity leave. That’s right, 178 other countries require paid leave for mothers who have just given birth.

This map shows paid leave around the world if you’re looking to move.

But if you’re planning to stay in the United States you’re probably thinking: What about FMLA? The Family Medical Leave Act only provides unpaid leave, not paid leave. Moreover, if you haven’t been at your job for a year, if you work fewer than 24 hours a week, or if your company has fewer than 50 employees, you aren’t covered by FMLA. This means that under federal law, you may not even be entitled to take any unpaid time.

So, if you’re a woman thinking of having children in the foreseeable future, you should give strong weight to an employer’s maternity leave benefits when considering jobs as it can mean tens of thousands of dollars in extra income and extra time off with your little one.

Here are the jobs with the best maternity benefits — listed according to rankings by Working Mother Magazine and also by industry.

Working Mother

Working Mother gives weight to more than just the number of weeks of paid maternity leave in putting together its “Working Mother 100 Best Companies” list. Other maternity benefits can include baby “stipends” and childcare. This year’s top ten were the following companies (in alphabetical order).

1.Abbott

Abbott gives new moms four weeks of paid maternity leave, but one of the biggest benefits is a flex schedule — which 97% take advantage of.

2.Deloitte

Deloitte offers fully paid maternity leave for 14 weeks. Plus, the company covers up to $25,000 for fertility treatments and $5,000 in adoption costs.

3. EY

EY (Formerly Ernst & Young) offers 14 weeks of fully paid maternity leave (22 weeks in total). Plus, women can come back with a reduced schedule after maternity leave.

4. General Mills

General Mills gives new mothers six weeks fully paid leave plus offers other benefits like sabbaticals, flex-time, and plenty of amenities (like a salon, cafeteria, day care, and gym).

5. IBM

IBM gives its employees six weeks of fully paid maternity leave.

6. KPMG

KPMG’s maternity leave policy includes an average of nine weeks of fully paid leave plus sabbaticals.

7. Procter & Gamble

At Procter & Gamble new moms get eight weeks of paid leave.

8. Prudential Financial

Prudential only offers five weeks of fully paid maternity leave, but new moms can take up to 26 weeks of leave (nine of those are partially or fully paid).

9. PwC

PwC gives new moms 15 weeks of fully paid maternity leave, and 80% of employees at PwC use a flextime schedule.

10. WellStar Health System

WellStar’s three weeks of paid maternity leave doesn’t compare to the others on the list, but Working Mother was a big fan of the company’s other benefits like fitness centers, walking clubs, wellness coaches, and on-site fruit and vegetable deliveries.

Other than the Working Mother top 10 list, what other companies have the best maturity policies? Generally they fall into several categories: jobs in the technology industry, jobs in the financial sector, and legal jobs. Here are the best companies by industry (other than the companies listed above).

Technology Industry

The technology sector is well known for its glamorous benefits like flexible work schedules and free food, but it’s also known for generous maternity leave policies. Here are the number of paid weeks off at the following technology companies all according to reporting done by Mother Jones in 2013:

1. Google

Google provides new mothers a whopping 18 weeks of paid maternity leave (22 if there are complications with the birth).

2. Instagram

Instagram gives new moms 17 weeks paid leave.

3. Reddit

Reddit also pays maternity leave for 17 weeks.

4. Facebook

Like Instagram and Reddit, Facebook moms get 17 weeks of maternity leave.

5. Yahoo

Yahoo’s maternity leave policy provides for 16 weeks of paid leave.

6. Twitter

Twitter’s policy is for 13 weeks of maternity leave.

7. Pinterest

Pinterest provides 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.

8. Microsoft

Microsoft also gives new moms 12 weeks of paid leave.

Financial Sector

Companies in the financial industry aren’t quite as generous as those in the tech world, but many banks, investment companies, and others in financial services offer a lot of paid leave. Here are the number of paid weeks off at the following financial companies (from the Working Mother list).

1. Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank gives new moms 18 weeks paid leave.

2. Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs offers new mothers 16 weeks paid leave.

3. Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley provides 16 weeks of maternity leave.

4. FINRA

FINRA’s maternity leave policy is for 13 weeks.

5. JP Morgan Chase

JP Morgan Chase provides 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.

6. Bank of America

Bank of America offers new mothers 12 weeks paid leave.

7. Credit Suisse

Credit Suisse’s maternity leave policy is also for 12 weeks paid leave.

Law Firms

While large law firms are best known for requiring long billable hours, most firms are actually quite generous with their paid maternity leave. Many offer 12 weeks paid maternity leave for their female attorneys. Here are the number of paid weeks off at some of the larger law firms which were included in Working Mother’s top 100 list. (Another good place for details of all benefits — including maternity leave — is on the NALP Directory which is reported by law firms to help with recruiting.)

1. Arnold & Porter

Arnold & Porter tops the list of law firms with 18 weeks of paid maternity leave.

2. Cooley

Cooley offers 13 weeks of paid maternity leave.

3. Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner

Finnegan also provides 13 weeks of paid maternity leave.

4. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Pillsbury’s maternity leave policy provides for 12 weeks of paid leave.

While over half of new mothers in the US don’t get any paid leave, if you’re fortunate enough to find a position at one of the above companies, you’ll be better off financially and likely much healthier and happier for having additional time with your little one.

1. Makes you more flexible for retaining talent

Offering a flexible parental leave policy is an attractive benefit to younger generations entering the workforce, such as millennials who say lack of flexibility is one of the top reasons they quit jobs. Keeping that talent is important as a startup grows. Parental leave is a flexible perk that will be attractive to all, especially to millennial workers close to starting a family.

2. Attracts the experience you need as you scale

When aiming to recruit senior-level talent to your company, you want those experienced workers to see that the benefits of working for you outweigh the risks. Many senior-level candidates are skeptical of startups because of the costly risks involved, with regard to the business failing and their own paychecks, job security, excessive hours and hard work.

Promoting a parental leave policy can help those skeptics keep an open mind and understand that you’re serious about growing to be the next Facebook.

3. Means fewer “sick” employees

Some 43 million workers in the United States have no paid sick leave, and employees who do have sick leave but no parental leave have to get resourceful when it comes to finding ways to spend time with their new families. Often the easiest way to do so is by shoring up paid sick leave. This means that when employees who use sick days to take parental leave actually do get sick, they have to come to work because they have few or no sick days remaining.

Having a separate parental leave policy ensures that your employees stay home when they’re sick and don’t expose other employees to a contagious illness.

4. Helps employees stay productive

Imagine being a new parent. Now imagine all the things you worry about after your child is born. It would be impossible to expect employees to return to work immediately after their child is born and focus on work-related tasks. To maintain productivity for your business, give your employees the time they need to care for their newborn so they can return to work refreshed and focused, knowing that they have a comfortable at-home routine in place.

5. Engenders loyalty

To retain employees, you need to motivate them to want to work for you. Research proves that parental leave policies not only positively affect employee morale but will also strengthen workers’ dedication to your company. In fact, 86 percent of employees, especially younger employees, are less likely to quit if paid parental leave is offered.

Building an awesome team that shares your vision and passion for changing the world requires more than just a free lunch or a ride to work. It means showing them you care equally about their invaluable contributions to our future. Offering parental leave is a simple way to do just that.

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