The U.S. government doesn’t guarantee affordable childcare or mandate paid parental leave, so U.S. employers — especially in competitive industries — are in the unique position of offering perks for new fathers and mothers as an incentive.
It’s an investment that usually pays off — according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s research, working parents who are given better childcare benefits are more loyal and committed to the companies they work for. They also report higher employee satisfaction. Companies that invest in good maternity benefits including longer maternity leave policies, flexible work schedules, and medical care avoid losing highly qualified female employees and are able to foster better female leaders.
The following is a list of highly desirable perks that companies can offer new parents.
Paid parental leave that covers all parents are a great perk, especially when they’re given flexible options of when to take them. Twitter, Etsy, Adobe, Netflix, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which offer between 20 weeks to a full year of paid parental leave after a child’s birth or adoption. Apart from 20 weeks of paid parental leave, American Express offers six to eight weeks of additional, paid, medically necessary leave for mothers related to the birth of a child. PricewaterhouseCoopers even offers an additional leave allowance for parents who already have a child at home. Amazon offers a Leave Share benefit — employees may share their paid leave with a working spouse whose employer does not offer it.
American Express, Bloomberg, OpenTable, PayPal, Snapchat, Viacom, and Zillow let breastfeeding moms who travel for business ship their breast milk home — expedited — at no cost to the employee.
Giving new parents cash to spend on items such as house cleaning, groceries, and babysitters is a godsend. Google gives new parents $500, and Facebook gives $4,000. Salesforce offers $250 take-out meal allowances, and Ultimate Software pays $300 per child to help pay for extracurricular activities.
Organizations are increasingly recognizing that paid childcare is essential for work-life balance. American Express offers up to 20 days a year of in-home or center-based childcare. Johnson & Johnson provides financial coverage for speech, occupational, and physical therapy for the special-needs children of parents in the US.
American companies have started paying for fertility treatments for couples as part of regular health benefits. Facebook and Salesforce offer benefits worth over $100,000 per employee, and Pinterest, Slack, Wayfair, Snapchat, Uber, and Foursquare offer smaller fertility assistance benefits. Two major consulting firms, Bain & Company, and Boston Consulting Group, offer unlimited coverage for fertility treatment.
Many companies offer scholarship assistance for employees, but Wells Fargo offers scholarships of $1,000 to $3,000 to children of employees to help pay for high school or college.
Patagonia and private equity firm KKR & Co. lets working parents bring a new child and a caregiver on business trips, paid for by the company. Patagonia’s perk is specific to breastfeeding moms, but caregivers can be sourced from the company’s on-site childcare center.