Five Reasons To Relax Maternity Leave Policy

Increasing the amount of paid and unpaid maternity or paternity leave is great for working parents. But, what about the firm?

Here are five reasons why relaxing your current maternity or paternity leave policy will benefit your law firm:

1. Retain qualified employees

“In all parts of the world, working women who become pregnant are faced with the threat of job loss, suspended earnings and increased health risks due to inadequate safeguards for their employment,” says F. J. Dy-Hammar, Chief, ILO Conditions of Work Branch, who oversaw the report, Maternity Protection at Work, reports the ILO.

This threat is intensified in law, as women are already underrepresented in the industry.

This is why it is even more important to show female associates that your law firm supports them. In fact, women make law firms more profitable by making teamwork more productive.

“According to [a study conducted by] Professor [Anita] Woolley of Carnegie Mellon, teams that include women would score higher on tasks than a team of all men because they possess the sensitivity chip necessary to communicate and relate to others more effectively,” reports the Levo League and C4CM.

In addition, female partners are vastly undervalued. This means, for the same level of work, a firm pays women less. Economists will tell you, women provide great bang for your buck. Although the reasoning may be crude, retaining female employees will help maintain your firm’s bottom line. That’s the bottom line.

2. Maintain diversity

Diversity is key to success. When your firm desperately needs new ideas to make or break a case, innovation will emerge out of teams of diverse size and organization.

“Creating a diverse environment of both men and women from different geographic regions, ethnic groups, age groups, and from a variety of functions will offer greater insight. This type of crowdsourcing opens the arena for new ideas within the organization,” writes Robert F. Brands for the Huffington Post.

Not only does cultivating diversity among teams grow the idea-generating legal machine, but they also increase the competitive edge of your firm by introducing new products and idea. If you keep losing female associates as a result of deficient maternity leave policy, your firm and its earnings from creativity will suffer.

3. Retract work-from-home

Innovation and change can be a good thing. But, not all firms should look alike. Although flexible schedules is a fad these days, it may not suit the needs of your particular law practice.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny that women benefit the most from telecommuting policies. Young female associates look for firms that offer work-from-home policies so that they can look forward to starting a family in the future.

However, if you’re a company like Yahoo who values face-to-face interaction between colleagues, work-from-home policies may not be the best choice for your firm. If this is the case, how can such firms continue to attract and retain successful female employees?

The answer is superior maternity and paternity leave. By allowing working parents ample time off once per child, you will ease the concerns of soon-to-be parents without having to resort to ill-fitted Flex scheduling on a permanent basis for all employees.

4. What comes around goes around

It may seem like a nuisance to provide a valued female attorney with six or more months of maternity leave. But, when it’s your pregnancy or your spouse’s, what comes around goes around. The policy you implement today will affect how you take advantage of it tomorrow.

So, help others and help yourself.

5. …. Or else!

If your firm doesn’t support working mothers, then working mothers will find innovative ways to support themselves.

“A period away from work,” an article in Stylist explains, “can be hugely positive–time to learn a language, take up a hobby.” In fact, this is why there’s a rise in a new type of entrepreneur, the “mumpreneur.”

If your firm doesn’t work to retain its female associates, the firm will miss out on the innovative ideas and brainpower of this important half of society. These mumpreneurs may even open a law practice down the street from your own. Your firm loses by losing its female employees.

Over 120 countries already provide paid maternity leave. Qualified working mothers have plenty of choices for work these days, both in terms of other firms or other nations.

Furthermore, if your firm provides scant time off, you may find your law practice has turned into a medical practice. Just yesterday a Labor lawyer gave birth in her office.

“The action took place inside a law firm’s office after a fellow attorney in the employee benefits practice started giving birth, presumably while redlining some rider for the umpteen-millionth time,” reports Above The Law.

“The mother, we hear, was due in the next week or so. According to our tipster, mom was hoping to maximize her hours before having to go on leave. Well, she succeeded.”

When it comes to supporting working parents (and still profiting), ask yourself, has your firm succeeded?

-WB

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