General Mills Offers Paid Maternity Leave to Employees
Companies Lead the Way
Recently, Microsoft announced that it would require any contractor that worked with the company to offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave to its employees. This came on the heels of Washington state, where Microsoft is headquartered, announced that it would be the 5th state to offer paid family and medical leave benefits. Maybe in an effort not to be outdone, General Mills announced that it would be providing 20 weeks of paid maternity leave to its employees.
Change on the Horizon
While the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) requires 12 weeks of leave, it does not require that employees are compensated. Most of the world’s most industrialized countries have already implemented generous paid leave options, which has led many to suggest that the United States was lagging behind its peers. With the recent introduction of two federal bills with the purpose of providing paid leave, this could soon be changing. The key difference between the two versions is that one comes up with payment by taking from the social security benefits that people are already paying into, while the other establishes payment through a slight increase in payroll taxes.
Key FMLA Protections
While the FMLA does not yet require paid leave, it does offer protection for people to take care of their own or a family member’s serious health condition. The key protection that employees using FMLA receive is job restoration. This means that once an employee returns from FMLA, he or she must be restored to the same or equivalent job as the one he or she had prior to taking leave. An equivalent job means that the pay, benefits, shift, and other employment-related aspects of the new job are almost identical to the job held prior to taking FMLA leave. Importantly, the FMLA also prevents employers from retaliating against employees from using leave, and from interfering with their right to use leave.
While the actions of private companies and the federal government towards establishing paid leave are encouraging, there is still work to do to ensure that employees are protected. Therefore, if you or someone you know has had issues with an employer with regards to using FMLA Leave, contact me and schedule a free initial consultation today!