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The pandemic taught the working world many lessons, including the value of flexibility. This led many workplaces to introduce more flexible leave policies to their benefit packages as they adjusted to the needs of their workers. This included types of leave that go beyond vacations and sick leave, because employers recognized the importance of life outside of work.
Let’s take a look at the most recent data from the Mercer 2023 Leave Programs survey. This survey gathered data from companies across a variety of industries in the United States
As employees seek to differentiate themselves from competitors and demonstrate they value employees as a whole, the following are some of the emerging policies in the United States that we noted in our most recent survey. These types of leave categories are outside of the traditional paid vacation and sick leave offered by most companies.
In the category of family and care leave, paid foster care and miscarriage leave are becoming more common among some companies, while grandparents leave is rarely an option.
Of the companies included in the survey, 28% are offering paid miscarriage leave, and 27% offer paid foster care leave. Surrogacy leave is also gaining in popularity with 19% of companies offering that as a paid leave option. Paid grandparents leave, on the other hand, is only available at 6% of companies.
Some notable companies offering paid foster care leave include Intel, Estee Lauder, and The National Football League.
As a sign of the times, many companies are now offering paid mental health, well-being, and vaccination days. Of the companies included in the survey, 23% now offer paid vaccination leave. This is leave an employee could take if they are feeling unwell after receiving a vaccine. Other paid health-related leave options that are gaining in popularity include well-being days at 19% of companies and mental health days at 17% of companies.
Paid leave for gender affirmation care, menopause, or menstrual leave is only available at a small fraction of companies.
Rising leave trends in this category show that companies are recognizing how important their employees’ health is to the overall success of a company. By giving employees grace and letting them take a mental health or well-being day, companies should find their employees are happier and healthier. Businesses leading the charge in this category include Nike, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Peloton.
A growing number of companies are starting to recognize a variety of religious holidays and offering paid leave to those who celebrate these holidays. In our 2023 study, this type of leave was available at 13% of companies. Other types of paid leave, offered at less than 10% of companies, include cultural leave, marriage leave, and birthday leave.
This type of leave shows that companies care about the personal lives of their employees. Leave for special events and cultural activities can help create a healthier work/life balance.
Offering leave for public duties is the most prevalent type of paid leave: 77% of companies in the survey will pay their employees if they must take time off for jury duty, while 54% offer paid leave to vote and 36% will pay military members when they need to report for duty.
Public duties are typically highly regarded in the United States, which is why so many companies offer paid leave for these opportunities. With jury duty, many states and local municipalities have laws that require businesses to give employees time off (pay is not required) to attend jury duty. Companies that pay for jury duty are going above and beyond their responsibilities.
Offering additional personal leave is only an option for a very small percentage of companies: 19% offer paid leave for extreme weather and 13% will pay their employees if they need to take time off to study or take an exam.
With an increasing number of extreme weather events across the country, paid leave for these incidents is becoming more popular. In 2017, New York City-based Glitch recognized the need for this type of leave after Hurricane Sandy. Many of its employees were displaced and needed time off. The company created a formal leave policy that allowed up to 5 days of paid time off for weather events.
Other types of additional personal leave, like pet leave, moving to a new house, or attending a protest, are almost nonexistent.
Vacation days are a key part of a total rewards benefit package. In our study, 20% of businesses are using additional paid vacation days as gifts for their employees, while 19% of businesses are offering employees the option of summer working hours instead of more vacation time.
A smaller percentage of companies offer time off in lieu, unlimited leave, and paid time off for temporary company shutdowns.
A growing number of companies offer leave in the form of unlimited paid time off. These companies recognize employees need days off for a variety of reasons and instead of forcing those days into categories, simply give employees the freedom and flexibility to make those choices. Some of these companies include HubSpot, Salesforce, and General Electric.
Leave policies acknowledge the importance of the employee experience both inside and outside of work and are a crucial part of your Total Rewards Strategy. Current and future employees want leave opportunities that meet their lifestyle needs, whether that is family planning, vacation, or other personal time off from work.
Your business has an opportunity to differentiate itself from the competition by offering competitive and forward-thinking leave policies. To understand what type of leave your employees want the most, take advantage of employee listening tools and surveys. This will give you clear examples of paid leave options that best match your employees’ needs.
Thoughtful leave policies support your established Employee Value Proposition (EVP). The right combination of leave policies shows your employees that you support them in all areas of their lives, both in and out of work. This will lead to happier, healthier, and more productive employees.
There is no denying that offering an abundance of time off, especially paid, can be attractive to potential employees. However, offering every imaginable type of leave can quickly become expensive and unsustainable. The best way forward is to listen to your employees and choose the types of leave that will best match their needs.
Do you need even more insights into leave programs? You can get the full details in our latest study. You can go even further by taking advantage of our Talent All Access package.
Ready to get the insights your business needs to get ahead? Connect with us online or call us at 866-605-1031.
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