New NFP Study Provides Insights on Employer Leave Policy Practices
Employers have opportunities to better align leave policies with organizational culture and offer more benefits that employees value

NEW YORK – February 1, 2023 – New benchmark data released today from NFP, a leading benefits consultant, highlights opportunities employers have when administering their leave policies. Among a variety of insights, data from NFP’s inaugural Leave Benchmarking Study (the “study”) shows that employers using outdated leave management practices may be leaving money on the table if they are not coordinating their maternity leave offerings with short-term disability (42% of companies surveyed do not) and state provided medical leave benefits (63% of companies surveyed do not).

These insights provide valuable guidance for HR practice leaders on leave policy best practices and compliance as workforce dynamics continue to evolve. With the support of its benchmarking data, NFP consults with employers to help them create more competitive benefit offerings for current and prospective talent, enhance the overall workforce experience, and find the right balance of flexibility for employees.

“Despite efforts to ensure compliance, many employers are finding it a challenge to create comprehensive leave policies. Hybrid, remote and dispersed workforces have only added to the challenges,” said Maria Trapenasso, Human Capital Solutions national practice leader, NFP. “With HR leaders taking on more and more within their organizations, it can be difficult to stay on top of regulatory complexities, avoid missed financial opportunities, and provide the support employees need. Our Leave Benchmarking Study is designed to start conversations with these leaders and work toward enhancements that can make a meaningful difference for their people and ultimately the overall performance of their organizations.”

The study also provides data to help employers better understand how their leave policies compare to those of their peers. NFP’s data can inform and provide support for policy refinements that enhance an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent.

The survey found maternity and parental leave are top priorities for many employers. Most employers offer leave for birth of a child (94%), with slightly less doing so for adoption (88%) and foster care (72%). Further, only 25% of employers differentiate between primary and secondary caregiver leave, “a clear indicator that this type of policy is more complex to administer than first thought,” observed Trapenasso. “Employers should seek counsel when using this type of policy because it is complex, and they need to ensure compliance.”

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of employers said they offer no amount of family caregiver leave. “There’s a large workforce demographic in the ‘sandwich generation’ responsible for taking care of their children and elderly parents at the same time. It’s vital for employers to realize the importance of providing their employees with paid leave to care for their loved ones of every age,” said Trapenasso.

Employers have also adjusted their bereavement leave policies in response to cultural shifts that have broadened the definition of family. The study found nearly one-quarter of bereavement leave policies allow an employee to take time off for a miscarriage or failed in vitro fertilization (24%). Additionally, some employers offer bereavement leave allowances for any close relations (32%) and the death of a pet (7%).

Some other notable findings from the survey are that 45% of employers offer Juneteenth as a paid company holiday, more than three-quarters (77%) offer the same amount of PTO to exempt and non-exempt employees, and 61% provide more than five paid sick days per year.

“Overall, the study shows that recent shifts in employee attitudes have triggered many employers to align their leave policies with the needs of their workforce, corporate values and peer standards. Administering employee leaves can be complex, particularly if required to comply with multiple state leave regulations. But there are ways to streamline policies to make them efficient and compliant at the same time,” concluded Trapenasso.

The full report and whitepaper can be found here. Additional insights from an industry webinar are available here.