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Communication a Top Challenge for Parental Leave

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While Congress is searching for solutions to improve paid parental leave in the United States, employers and expecting parents have their own systematic hurdles to overcome.

According to an Unum survey of 500 recent parents, communication with their employer was subpar. The survey found that 49% of new moms and 36% of new dads did not meet with their manager or HR department to discuss their leave benefits and of the 40% who did, they spent 30 minutes or less doing so.

“Becoming a new parent is a special time and most employers offer a range of valuable financial protection benefits like short-term disability insurance and paid family leave,” said Angel Bennett, director of Unum’s leave management center. “This research highlights the importance of having an open dialogue with HR, developing a leave and return-to-work plan, and discussing all the benefits their company offers.”

Some of the top struggles of new parents included leaving their child (61%), not wanting to return to work but needing the income (52%), logistics of childcare (42%) and reduced focus or concentration at work (37%).

Other key survey findings included:

  • Paid leave is the most desired workplace benefit, but only 30% of these new parents’ employers offer it.
  • 47% of new mothers said breastfeeding at work was one of their biggest challenges and only 17% of parents said their employer offers lactation rooms.
  • 60% of moms and 40% of dads struggled with depression or anxiety after becoming new parents.

To help new parents navigate this often-confusing process, Unum has developed Bringing Up Baby: A Guide to Workplace Parental Leave Resources, which contains basic tips, timing and conversation starters to engage with managers and HR representatives. Additionally, it spotlights key findings from research and contains links to additional resources. This guide can be found at unum.com/workwell.

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