How We Built Our Paid Parental Leave Policy
A few years ago, we had just one employee at Eden who was a parent.
As our team grew, we hired new employees who were either parents already, or were at the place in their lives where they were hoping to take this important step.
We decided it was time to establish a paid parental leave policy. The timing was perfect, as not long after we started the process of designing our policy, one of our team members shared that she was newly expecting.
Knowing exactly how to establish a parental leave policy at your company can be a challenge. There’s a lot that goes into it, from making sure you’re looping in stakeholders early on, to the language you use when writing up your policy.
We wanted to share our experience creating a parental leave policy for Eden to give insight into the process for other HR and People Operations leaders. Maybe you’re revisiting your own policies, or perhaps you’re creating one for the first time.
Here’s how we approached the process, and what we learned.
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Designing our parental leave policy
When we set out to design the policy, we knew based on conversations between HR, People Operations, and the executive team that our top priority was to be equitable and fair.
We wanted to offer a generous parental leave policy that was well-aligned to the benefits we were already offering. In short, we wanted to ensure Eden was a great place to work for parents, current and future.
Conducting research and gathering employee feedback
Jenna Kramsky, our People Operations Manager, spearheaded this project and was at the helm for the research stage of crafting our policy. As Eden’s Head of HR, I also stayed close to this project and provided support.
Jenna started by reaching out to our team members who were parents or expectant parents, to understand their needs and what they valued most.
Once she had their initial feedback, she turned to external market research to understand what peer organizations and industry leaders were offering. Luckily, since we build software for HR professionals, we have a pretty wide network of people we could tap for data in this phase.
Now that we had a good sense of what our internal company priorities were, what our current parents valued, and what the market trends were, we were able to craft our policy.
Paying attention to language
From the start, we wanted to be inclusive.
This meant building a parental leave policy that was equitable to all employees, regardless of their gender identity or orientation.
We also wanted to acknowledge that there are many ways to grow a family. For these reasons, we tried to be conscious of what language went into our final policy.
Ultimately, we landed on the language of "birth-giving" and "non-birth giving" parents. We wanted to avoid the gendered language of maternal and paternal, even though those are terms people tend to be the most familiar with. We also wanted to avoid assuming through word choice that birth-giving parents are primary caregivers to children, or that the only way to grow a family is by giving birth.
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Our finalized policy
Our final Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Policy is designed to meet the needs of Eden’s parents and advocate for their rest, recovery, and bonding time with their newest family member.
All of our full-time W-2 employees who are parents of a new child are eligible for paid leave to bond with their child. This includes birth-giving parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, and spouses or domestic partners of birth-giving, adoptive, and foster parents.
All eligible birth-giving parents are entitled to 16 weeks of PPL and all eligible non-birth giving parents are entitled to 12 weeks of PPL.
How the policy was received
We announced the new policy at an all hands meeting in the fall of 2021, and employee reception was positive.
The parents who were involved in scoping discussions felt good that their needs were heard, and they were very pleased with the final outcome.
And, since roll out, we have had new hires list our parental leave offering as a competitive benefit that helped them make their decision to join the Eden team.
What we learned: A good parental leave policy, like most policies, will likely require iteration
Our policy is a living document. Like most policies, we may need to make updates in the future to make sure it stays equitable for all team members, as things change and as our company grows.
One important change we’ve made to our policy since roll out is the recent addition of commission targets into payroll calculations for employees on parental leave who are in commission-based roles. We didn’t find much relevant data on this in our market research, so we hope we can be an early leader in this area.
While crafting our policy, one thing we struggled with was finding resources online sharing explicit details of what other companies were doing overall, not just when it came to how to handle commission-based roles.
It was great to find that more companies are offering paid parental leave for non-birth giving parents—but we couldn't find much information beyond the fact that companies are offering this benefit. We didn’t have the nitty gritty details to use as a data point when crafting our own policy. Having detailed conversations with other HR professionals in our network was very helpful in crafting our policy, and also in terms of giving them new ideas in updating their policies.
If you have any questions about our policy or our process, please reach out to Jenna Kramsky at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is how we all raise the bar in People Operations: By discussing policy and new initiatives with other HR and People Operations leaders.