By Pension and Benefits Editorial Staff
A majority of U.S.-based large employers are expanding paid leave benefits including adding or considering new types of paid leave, increasing the number of days available for leave, and/or broadening eligibility, according to a recent Business Group on Health survey. The survey of 113 large employers also revealed that employers are responding to employees’ needs and a more diverse workforce by expanding paid leave for parenting, caregiving, bereavement, and for other reasons.
According to the Business Group’s 2020 Large Employers’ Leave Strategy and Transformation Survey, almost four in ten (39%) respondents expanded paid leave benefits in 2019, 38 percent are making changes this year and 35 percent are considering by 2022. More specifically:
- Thirty percent of employers added new leave programs in 2019. Additionally, 24% are planning to add programs this year (with 18% considering new programs in 2021/2022).
- Twenty-four percent of employers increased the duration of leave available last year. Additionally, 23% plan to increase the duration of leave this year (with 23% considering doing in 2021/2022).
- Twelve percent of employers expanded eligibility for leave benefits last year. Additionally, 8% plan to expand eligibility this year (with 15% considering doing so in 2021/2022).
“Leave benefits, especially for new parents and working caregivers, are highly valued by employees and address a growing area of need. Employers are evaluating, and in many cases, expanding these and other benefits to help meet those needs,” said Brian Marcotte.
More employers embracing caregiver, expanding bereavement leave. Employer interest in supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities is growing. Over a third of respondents (35%) offer caregiver leave benefits and another 28 percent are considering it by 2022. Interestingly, many employers have gone beyond leave to care for a spouse, child or parent to also cover others that employees may have caregiving responsibilities for: 46 percent cover siblings, 46 percent cover parents of spouse/partner and 38 percent cover grandparents.
The survey also noted that employers understand the importance of being there for employees when they most need support. In fact, all respondents in the survey offer bereavement leave. On average, employers offer six days of bereavement leave, with some providing up to 20 days.
“We expect large employers to continue expanding leave benefits in the coming years, and not just for parents and caregivers. In fact, employers are looking to volunteer leave, bereavement leave, military leave, mental health days, and summer Fridays off. Employers see their roles changing and want to support employees during the times they need it most,” said LuAnn Heinen, vice president, Business Group on Health.
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