The following was produced in partnership with our friends at Johnson & Johnson.
Long a leader on family benefits, Johnson & Johnson has announced that the progressive parental leave program it implemented in the United States in 2015 is about to go global. The company’s Global Parental Leave Policy, which guarantees fathers and mothers a minimum of eight weeks of paid leave, will now apply to the company’s roughly 90,000 non-U.S. employees. The move is not only significant for the soon-to-be parents it will directly affect, it also represents a rare example of American leadership on parental leave issues, an opportunity for the company to bolster an already family-friendly culture, and a means of recruiting talented individuals who believe a healthy work life grows from a healthy home life.
Since 2015, Johnson & Johnson has opted to offer American employees eight weeks of paid leave for all parents, a notable benefit specifically because it includes fathers, who are often given less leave and demoted to “secondary caregivers” by corporate policies. These benefits are significant for a company in the United States, which is the only developed country without a national paid parental leave policy. Under current laws, American employers must offer only 12 weeks of unpaid leave to fathers and adoptive parents and 12 weeks to mothers who gave birth. Johnson & Johnson pays and, beyond that, offers flexibility; leave can be parceled out over the first year of a newborn’s life, an allowance that ensures parents in dual-income households can optimize schedules for time with their child and their own convenience. By offering this program internationally, Johnson & Johnson is demonstrating its commitment to families worldwide, which may, in turn, encourage other companies to follow.
“By continually raising the bar on the family benefits we offer, Johnson & Johnson is blazing a new trail for companies and working parents worldwide,” says Peter Fasolo, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer. “Healthier employees and families create a healthier world.”
The company, which started with eight female and six male employees in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1886, is not merely a Fortune 500 company. It’s a Fortune 50 company. Johnson & Johnson can help establish parental leave as a given, a developmentally critical–for both parents and children–and universal part of the process of growing a family.
“We know how critical this bonding time is to the well-being of both children and their parents,” says Fasolo.
Getting fathers to take advantage of parental leave has proven difficult for countries as well as companies. In Britain, where shared parental leave is law, a government assessment suggests that only two to eight percent of fathers will actually take significant time off. In Japan, where new dads are entitled to up to 52 weeks off at 60 percent pay, only two percent of fathers take paternity leave. By contrast, nearly 50% of Johnson & Johnson’s eligible fathers in the United States have taken their full allotted parental leave. That indicates both that the program has been successful in short order and that there’s still room for improvement. Scholarship would suggest that this is likely because employees buy into a family-first work culture. By globalizing its parental leave program, the company is further signaling its commitment to those values and, in so doing, bolstering that culture. The global policy may not change the benefits offered to US employees, but it will affect the cultural context of their decisions. Further improvement in utilization of the benefit may come as the result of the global cultural signals it sends.
It may also affect the recruitment of future employees. Part of Johnson & Johnson’s pitch to talented young workers has long been that it actively encourages work/life balance. The Global Parental Leave program not only allows the company to more effectively take that pitch international, but to demonstrate a real commitment to Millennials and members of Generation Z, two groups of workers that, time and time again, report wanting a more humane relationship with their employers.
Though the downstream rewards and effects are significant and worthy of discussion, the concrete and immediate benefits are powerful. Thousands of fathers and mothers will be able to spend more time with their children thanks to the policy. This will not only result in healthier, better-adjusted babies, but also make a massive transition into a family project, allowing time for discussions and planning. As it turns out, good management begets good management.
This article was produced in partnership with our friends at Johnson & Johnson.