How to Determine the Right Parental Leave Strategy for Expecting Employees

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All new parents experience the first few weeks of their child's life differently.

By the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC). The topic of flexible parental leave is more discussed than ever before. How are you determining how much time off to take yourself/give employees with new babies?

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

John Hall  A. Take What You Need

We believe strongly in giving a fair amount of time off so employees can take care of their new babies. We issue six weeks of paid leave,and in fact, I just got back from paternity leave myself. It's hard for me to take off work, but it was important for me to lead by example. When your company sees their leader taking paternity leave, it makes them more open to allowing themselves the time off they need too. - John HallInfluence & Co.

Alexandra Levit 2  A. Look to the Rest of the World

In my opinion, the ethical thing to do is benchmark against foreign rather than American companies. U.S. organizations have some of the worst parental leave policies in the world. Also, don't assume new mothers and fathers can't work at all. New babies sleep a lot and don't do much, so with some flexibility, they might be more productive than you think. - Alexandra LevitInspiration at Work

john rampton  A. Create a Plan With Your Team

Now that I'm a first-time parent, I understand the uncertainty in terms of how much time a person really needs. Every situation is different and relates to health issues and the care environment that the parents have in place. I find it helps to talk with each employee and devise a plan that is right and reasonable for them and the company so their work can be covered while they are gone. - John RamptonDue

Beck_Bamberger  A. Give Four Months and a Lot of Flexibility

The more women I interview, the more shocked I am to hear of large corporations NOT being flexible with their parental leave policies nor allowing generous flexible work hours once kids are in the picture. Are we OK with losing an A-player who's been more than loyal and imperative to our success because we have a rigid, strict parental policy? Nope. - Beck BambergerBAM Communications

Marcela DeVivo  A. Offer a Flexible Work Program

Combined with the increase in technology, virtual work platforms, video conferencing and more, companies can give new parents the benefit of staying home with their newborns while staying connected with the office. For smaller companies, losing an employee can be tough. However, if you create a flexible work program where the employee can work remotely for limited hours, this can be a win-win. - Marcela De VivoBrilliance

Peter Daisyme  A. Benchmark Other Companies

It's best to see how other flexible parental leave plans have worked out for other companies and then determine how you might learn the most beneficial parts of each to apply to your organization. You want to strike a balance between worker satisfaction and productivity when people are out on extended leave. - Peter DaisymeDue Invoicing

Vishal Shah  A. Go for a Tailored Approach

At my startup (before it was acquired), we didn't have a structured parental leave plan and worked with each individual employee to develop a tailored plan that would include a mix of paid leave and a post-leave flexible work arrangement option. That said, a flexible approach such as this is more suited to startups with fewer than 50 employees and policies need to evolve as the business matures. - Vishal ShahNoPaperForms

Michael King  A. Make a Clear Timeline

We give our employees six weeks off after they've been with us for at least six months and 12 weeks after they've been here for a year. Not only is it important to offer such a program, but it's important to live by it. My daughter was born last month and I've been on leave since the week prior. I hope that sends the message to my team that no one should be scared to take their well-earned leave. - Michael KingIPullRank

Dan Golden  A. Always Put Family First

Rather than enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach, make policies flexible to accommodate the different life situations each employee has or might face. Don’t make the amount of time off a pre-determined part of your policy. Right now, I’m on parental leave for the birth of my second child and during nap times, it's easy to catch up on work. That could all change in a month, so flexibility is key! - Dan GoldenBe Found Online

Cynthia Johnson  A. Give Them Project-Based Time Off

I look to see what projects are coming up around the time of leave to see how and if we can offer a flexible way to give them enough time with their families as well as a flexible time to come in and the ability to work from home on a certain schedule. - Cynthia JohnsonAmerican Addiction Centers

Angela McCrory  A. Offer Remote Work as an Option

Mothers are overjoyed at the birth of their new child and then the exhaustion will set in when adapting to the new life as a mother, or another child. As a tech startup, our work is flexible in the sense of where it can be done. Be flexible with the mother when determining when she will start doing work again versus when she will come back to the office. Don’t forget to ask for baby pictures! - Angela McCroryRukkus

Justin Blanchard  A. Be Responsive to Individual Needs

Employees have different needs with regard to parental leave. I’ve known employees who want to get back to work almost immediately,and those who need much longer. Talk to each employee and come to an agreement that suits both them and the business. Offer flexible remote work if the employee is interested, but don’t insist, especially in the early period of parental leave. - Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc.

Chad Keller  A. Look to Europe

It's no secret that Europe is the place to be if you're a working parent. Many of the E.U. countries go a step above the requirements and offer paid paternal leave. Being able to spend time with your child as they grow is a big step in the right direction. Not only does it support quality of life, but it will provide a huge bonus to your company culture for current employees and future hires. - Chad KellerWUDN

Dan Carlton  A. Focus on the Re-Entry Plan

The toughest thing for many new moms is “leaving the leave.” A standard three-month parental leave policy is important. However, it’s perhaps more important to tailor a back-to-work transition period where a mom can do a month post-leave of working from home or with reduced hours. The smoother the re-entry back to work, the better it is for the new mom, the company and most importantly, the baby. - Dan CarltonThe PARAGRAPH Project The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.