Welcoming a child into your life is exciting, emotional, and full of new challenges. It can be particularly challenging adjusting to a new family routine within the precious time that employees can afford to be out of work.

At the Wills Group, we care about our employees and recognize that family should always come first. That’s why we’re proud to offer a progressive and flexible Parental and Bonding Leave Policy, providing up to 7 weeks of paid leave to eligible employees who expand their family through birth, adoption, or foster care.

What is a parental leave benefit?

Parental leave offers employees paid time off from work after the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. The purpose of parental leave is to give parents time to bond with their new child and adjust to their new life.

Some companies only offer maternity leave to expectant mothers, while others extend the benefit to fathers (paternity leave), adopting parents, and foster parents. Parental leave is intended to be inclusive of all parenting situations and not determined exclusively by pregnancy.

Workplace parental leave benefits are typically paid, but the amount of pay, the length of time off, and eligibility vary widely from company to company.

The length of paid time off usually depends on how long an employee has been with the company and whether they work full time or part time. For instance, some parental leave benefits are only eligible after 6 or 12 months of employment with a company. Others offer accrued leave.

Once eligible, the length of paid time off varies widely. Some companies offer a few weeks while others might offer 3 or more months. Some employers even allow you to take the time off in increments – for instance, stretching a 2-month leave period over 8 non-consecutive weeks.

Employees may also be able to combine parental leave benefits with accrued sick days, vacation time, short-term disability, or other paid time off. This helps employees extend the bonding time with their new child without sacrificing a paycheck.

While most employer-sponsored parental leave benefits are paid, they’re not always at 100% of your regular salary. It’s common to see benefits payout at only 50%, 70% or 80% of your regular salary for as long as you’re on leave. Some companies even determine the payout by how long you’ve been employed.

It’s important for employees to check in with their human resources department about state laws and how to maximize their planned time off when expecting a new child.

Parental and Bonding Leave at the Wills Group, with Michelle Bohler

The Parental and Bonding Leave (P&B Leave) policy at the Wills Group is designed to be inclusive and flexible. It’s open to all full-time employees who have been at the company for 12 months or more, and offers equal benefits to expectant mothers, fathers, adopting parents, and foster caregivers.

Eligible employees receive up to 7 weeks of 100% paid parental leave. They are free to take the time all at once or stretch it out over a longer period that includes working and non-working days. Staff are also encouraged to consider their other paid time off benefits to maximize their bonding time at home.

Parental leave was an important consideration for Michelle Bohler, Convenience Retailing Accounting Manager for all Dash In stores. “It was one of the questions I asked during the interview process, and I was very happy to hear [the Wills Group] had parental leave.”

Michelle welcomed her first child in June 2021 and used a combination of the Wills Group’s Parental and Bonding Leave benefit with other paid time off benefits to maximize her time off with her new baby girl.

Michelle was most appreciative of the flexibility designed into the Wills Group’s P&B Leave policy. “The top benefit of the policy is the flexibility it allows. The parental leave provided by the company can be split up during the first year of your child’s life. You’re also able to use your PTO to offset the reduced pay you receive with short-term disability, or to extend your time off.”

Combining P&B Leave with other paid time off was Michelle’s preferred method. She used sick time, vacation time, plus short-term disability benefits to extend her paid parental leave to 15 weeks.

“The 15 weeks I had with my daughter were crucial for both of us. I’m grateful the Wills Group had a policy in place that allowed me to take this time off with her and not have to worry about my work obligations.”

A foundation for success

Welcoming a new child into your family is a precious experience, but also physically and mentally draining. Time off from work is critical for the health and well-being of all family members.

Fathers and non-delivering partners, too, need time off to recuperate and help care for the delivering parent – who often needs as much care and support as the new baby.

In the U.S., only 23% of private industry companies provide some sort of paid parental leave to their employees. It’s a shockingly low statistic, but the Wills Group is proud to be among these other progressive companies who recognize the importance of paid parental leave.

Our employees are key to our success, and we’re always listening and asking them what they need to be happy and well both at home and at the office.

Policies like our Parental and Bonding Leave make our team feel valued and cared for. It also serves our commitment to strengthening the communities in which we live and work. Not only does a well-adjusted and stable family life translate to happier and more productive employees, but we believe strong communities begin at home.

This commitment to our employees is foundational to our success as a company and vital to our purpose of keeping Lives in Motion.

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