Employers Consider Additional Forms of Leave to Bolster Workforce Well-being

Employers are increasingly considering leave and time away as integral to employee engagement and retention, as well as contributing to overall health and well-being.

Paid leave, which can be used for things such as caring for a loved one, taking a vacation to rest and recharge or serving in the armed forces if called up for duty, has in recent years emerged as a key part of an employer’s well-being and workforce strategy. More and more, employers regard leave and time away as integral to employee engagement and retention, as well as contributing to overall health and well-being.

While employers understand the value of time away, they are challenged with ensuring their leave programs are compliant with the myriad of local, regional and country-specific laws and regulations. This is further complicated as employers strive to meet the needs of a diverse workforce. To that point, Business Group on Health has identified three key trends among the paid leave programs of employers:

#1Paid parental leave has become core to almost all employers’ leave programs.

According to the Business Group ’s 2024 Employer Leave Strategy and Transformation Survey, 95% of employers surveyed plan to offer paid leave to parents for bonding purposes, a number that could reach 97% by 2026. We have also seen a continual broadening of eligibility for parental leave, with birth parents, adoptive parents, parents who welcome a child through a surrogate and foster parents all having access to bonding leave. 

#2New types of leave focus on assisting employees with life events.

The recent survey also confirmed Business Group observations that some employers are broadening policies to allow leave to be used for caregiving, after a pregnancy loss or to seek care after intimate partner violence. Employers are seeking to support employees across a broad array of life events.

Employers’ Paid Time for Other Leave, 2024-2026. Pregnancy loss (either separate from or covered in bereavement): 75% will offer in 2024, 5% considering for 2025/2026. Caregiver leave: 48% will offer in 2024, 18% considering for 2025/2026. Intimate partner violence: 20% will offer in 2024, 7% considering for 2025/2026. Pet loss leave: 7% offering in 2024, 3% considering for 2025/2026. Menopause: 2% will offer in 2024, 6% considering for 2025/2026 
Figure 1: Employers’ Paid Time for Other Leave, 2024-2026

#3Employers with locations around the world struggle with providing the same leave benefits to all employees.

While many multi-national companies would prefer to have consistency in their leave programs, that can be challenging due to variation in country-specific regulations and laws as well as differences in what is considered standard leave in local areas. A global leave policy defines the coverage levels of leaves around the world and aims to create consistency among countries. The survey found that 26% of global employers either have a global leave policy already in place or are actively working on one – a critical first step to creating consistency, but one that many employers are challenged to complete.

Within the United States and globally, employers will continue to evolve paid leave policies to meet the changing needs of their workforces and advance employee health and well-being, while ensuring positive and sustainable business outcomes.

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