Top Voluntary Benefits That May Soon Be Mandatory - Zupnick Associates

(by Andres Rojas)

Voluntary benefits are constantly evolving. However, the Covid pandemic, the rise of remote work, and the labor shortage have kicked it up a notch. 

Today, companies of all sizes are propping up their core benefits with new, exciting perks that will attract and retain the best talent. What’s more important is that many of these voluntary benefits might soon be mandatory, so let’s learn more about them.

Paid Maternity Leave for 12 Weeks

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave and job protection for new mothers. However, while this law gives moms time to recover and bond with their newly born or adopted children, qualifying for it is hard, and even those who get it still have to do three months without a paycheck and adequate health benefits. Luckily, though, this is starting to change.

More States and Employers Are Offering 12-Weeks Paid Maternity Leave

Although in 2018 only 17% of American workers had access to employer-based paid maternity leave, HR recruiting agents today understand it is a huge selling point and are rushing to meet the demand.

Moreover, paid family leave is already the law in nine states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington — plus the District of Columbia, so it’s only a matter of time until the federal government joins the line.

Paid Maternity Leave Is a Critical Part of Biden’s American Families Plan

Biden’s American Families Plan (AFP) has earmarked $225 billion for a national paid leave program. If approved, the AFP will provide new mothers with up to $4,000 a month, with at least two-thirds of their average weekly wages replaced. New mothers with the lowest wages could get as much as 80% of their prior wages.

Paid Paternity Leave

Traditionally viewed as the breadwinners, fathers often feel pressured to keep working after their child is born. Indeed, fathers will seldom take parental leave, even when they qualify for it. Thankfully, though, as studies highlight the importance that men have to the health of their wives and offspring, both the attitudes and legislation towards paid paternity leave are changing.

Paid Paternity Leave Use Is Growing Around the World

Countries like Sweden have modified their parental leave programs to make it easier for new fathers to take time off. Even in the US, where childcare is still seen as a feminine role, there is broad support for greater access to paid parental leave. Yet, passing the legislation might be the easiest part.

Fathers Themselves Might Be the Biggest Obstacle for Paid Parental Leave

Many have noted new fathers’ reluctance to take time off to care for their families. Whether it’s due to preconceived gender roles, nervousness about their families’ finances, or fear of criticisms from their male colleagues, some experts believe that making paid parental leave mandatory could be the only way to stop new fathers from prioritizing their jobs over bonding with their families.

4-Day Work Week

While the five-day, 40-hour work week has been our standard since the 1930s, the reality is it’s quickly becoming obsolete. The rise of remote work means that workers have more options than ever, leaving many companies critically short of labor. To solve their staffing issues and become an attractive location for employees, many businesses are experimenting with a revised four-day, 32-hour work week.

4-Day Work Weeks Are Taking Over the Corporate World

Far from decreasing productivity, trials in countries like Iceland and Japan show that these changes can improve a workforce’s efficiency without increasing turnover rates or overburding their health benefits program. With more free time on their hands, employees can take better care of their families and their health without reducing the quality of their work.

4-Day Work Weeks Might Become a Reality Sooner Than You Think

But the four-day workweek isn’t a ‘foreign’ phenomenon by any means. Indeed, many American companies – like Kickstarter or Elephant Ventures – are either implementing four-day work weeks or plan to do so in the near future.

The four-day work week has even made it to Congress, where a bill that would require employers to pay overtime for non-exempt workers who clocked more than 32 hours in a week could be the first step to the four-week nationwide adoption.

These voluntary benefits might soon fill the gaps that core benefits may leave. So instead of watching passively as your competitors rake the benefits of being early adopters, why not give them a try?

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