So, I’m up north at HRPA 2014 and I’m learning so much about our Canadian HR brother and sisters (like the US it’s still mostly sisters!). Did you know the maternity leave in Canada is 52 weeks! That’s one year if your slow at math like me! And that can be divided in any manner between the mother and father. Plus, from the peers I spoke to, many get up to 55% of their salary for the entire time they off!
Obviously, the US has FMLA for only 12 weeks. By the way, the women I spoke to, who didn’t know this about the US, were completely shocked by this. But, I was completely shocked by 52 weeks and 55% pay!
My question to you today is: How much pregnancy leave is too much?
Here are some thoughts I have between the US and Canadian policies:
1. 12 weeks is too short. 52 weeks seems too long.
2. I’m not sure how companies manage, especially those with a large female workforce, it would seem like a huge competitive disadvantage to lose your talent for so long, and still have to pay out so many resources for not having that talent.
3. I wish I would have had my 3 sons in Canada.
4. Should a government force a corporation to pay an employee for a very personal decision? The company didn’t ask you to have babies, why should they pay 55% of your salary? How is that decision different than many life decisions we make. I want to train for an Ironman Triathlon – I expect it will take me 6 months. Pay me for that!
5. Canadians game the system just like Americans! My Canadian HR peers had the same war stories as my American peers. One was of a female business owner who got pregnant. Since she owned the business she didn’t have to claim 52 weeks off. So her husband took all 52 weeks and got paid 55% of his salary. The HR person knew this was going on and couldn’t do anything about it. People are people – given a set of rules, they’ll find ways around them.
I run a company that has had many pregnancies over the years, I hire an age that falls into the perfect age for baby making! Each time we have one person out for 12 weeks, it’s a stress on the entire team. I can’t even imagine how we would manage for 52 weeks! A part of me is glad I don’t have to deal with that. Another part of me wishes we had better maternity leave in the US.
I don’t know what the perfect number is, I’m sure it’s different for each family going through it.
What do you think? What is the perfect amount of pregnancy leave? If you were given the chance to design a plan, taking into account both the employee and the company resources, what would you do?