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How to Become a Baby-Friendly Firm: Maternity and Paternity Leave - Get Creative

Published on October 26, 2017 by Sharon Trabbic, PAFM, William Vaughan Company

The Big 4 Accounting firms (Deloitte, PwC, EY and KMPG) have embraced the maternity and paternity leave concept in a big way and updated most of their policies during 2016 and 2017. Deloitte and EY rolled out 16 weeks fully paid leave for mothers and fathers; KMPG now offers 12 weeks paid leave to primary caregivers and 3 weeks for non-primary caregivers. PwC’s policy is 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave (including short-term disability benefits), and 6 weeks of paid paternity leave. 

As the battle for talented staff and leaders continues to grow among firms of all sizes, these announcements from the Big 4 firms are startling to many of us who work in smaller firms. Paid parental leave is an expensive benefit – whether it is  4 weeks or 16.  Although we can generally meet the salary and some other insurance benefits of the Big 4, parental leave is one of those benefits that even firms that are part of the AICPA’s G400 might not be able to match.  

But smaller firms are nimbler; we can update our policies quicker, and we know each one of our employees – what’s on their mind and what they really need.  We can have a family-friendly firm without paying out tens of thousands of dollars in maternity or paternity benefits every year. Here are a few ideas:

And, just in time: a nationwide mandate for parental leave is on the horizon. President Trump’s federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 (Oct. 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018) includes granting mothers and fathers up to six weeks paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Under this proposal, the states would fund and administer the program, primarily through unemployment insurance. A few states already require paid leaves. New Jersey, Rhode Island, and California offer paid-leave benefits through temporary disability benefits. Washington, D.C., and New York have similar mandates that take effect next year. At the federal level, some Democrats have proposed the Family and Medical Insurance Act, which would create a fund to provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave per year.

Before that happens, if it does, create your own competitive advantage, and find a way to quickly tell your story to a valued employee or a recruit who might be looking at a Big 4 firm just because of the parental leave benefits.  And remember too that the turnover of key employees may be even costlier than offering a family leave benefit of some kind. 

At a minimum, support from the firm’s leaders that it’s okay to have or adopt a baby, and okay to take extra time off to nurture and bond with that child is paramount.