With the widespread adoption of flex and hybrid working models, many employers (and employees) are curious about what will happen to employee leave policies. Mercer’s Leave Programs survey, published in January of 2022, gave us some insight into the latest changes in leave and paid time off in the US and across the globe.
Why do leave policies matter?
A comprehensive leave policy is a significant component of an employer’s Total Rewards Strategy. Today’s employees are looking for company benefits that fit the life they design. They want employment to fit into and support life choices and events outside of work. Employers can differentiate from their competitors by listening to their employees and providing paid leave options best suited to their employee population.
Well-designed leave policies reinforce an established Employee Value Proposition (EVP). When employees are supported in areas of mental health, caregiving, community, and general well-being, they can flourish in the space and security provided to be more productive at work.
The US and Canada Leave Changes
These 2 North American countries often have similar yet unique business policies and practices. This holds true for leave policies, as 3 of the 5 most commonly offered paid leave types are the same in both countries. Voting leave, volunteer leave, and caregiver leave are among the top 5 paid leave types currently offered in the United States and Canada.
According to the most recent release of the Leave Program survey, miscarriage leave, mental health days, and surrogacy leave are among the most common leave types under consideration by companies in both the US and Canada. Nearly 20% of Canadian and 9% of US companies may add mental health days to their future leave policy.
The survey data shows that an unlimited leave policy is the most widely considered policy in the US (18%), followed by volunteer (17%) and miscarriage leave (11%). An unlimited leave policy would allow employees to take as many days per year as needed.
In Canada, well-being days are currently the top leave policy under consideration (28%), followed by mental health days (19%) and cultural leave (13%). Surrogacy leave in Canada is the fourth most common leave under consideration and the fourth most common unpaid leave policy.
Emerging Global Leave Policy Trends
Mercer’s Leave Programs reveal emerging leave trends around the globe. As workers return to the office, go on hybrid schedules, or settle into fully remote positions, organizations are looking for new and innovative ways to update leave programs to provide value to employees in this new work reality.
Home and family-focused leave types are still the most common globally, including marriage leave (64% of global companies), caregiver and dependent leave (46%), and foster care leave (20%).
Health and well-being leave is a growing focus for companies. Miscarriage leave is the second most common emerging leave type worldwide, offered by 49% of companies. Additionally, 22% of global companies offer well-being days and 20% provide mental health days.
Other emerging leave trends are in the areas of public and communal service, study and education, and celebration and festivity.
Leave policies should align with company goals
A well-designed leave policy will support the EVP and the company’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) strategies. When these areas align, the company is able to demonstrate clearly to employees and potential candidates where its priorities are. For many, the focus on employee well-being is vital.
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