There’s a saying at New Relic—love your Mondays. For me, that’s a genuine sentiment because I love what I do and where I work. Our commitment to providing excellent employee benefits is just part of what defines the New Relic culture that makes me proud. And while our benefits were already competitive, I am excited to announce that we have expanded our paid parental leave to meet the needs of growing families. New parents around the world can receive 12 weeks of full pay following a child’s birth, adoption, or placement, effective January 1, 2020. That's in addition to up to 10 weeks fully paid disability leave for birthing parents.*

Many companies cover only base pay, but employees on commission or with a bonus target will receive both base and variable pay during their leave.

This enhancement to our parental leave benefit, from 10 to 12 weeks, provides even more family bonding time. It also places us at the forefront of a rapidly changing competitive landscape.

Additionally, this month we introduced a new benefit for U.S. employees to receive up to 10 days of backup childcare through to help our team members when they need it most. So when ongoing childcare falls through, or an emergency arises, employees can choose a vetted caregiver to come to their home within two hours or bring their child to a local backup care center—at a subsidized, low cost. We are committed to continue exploring opportunities to extend similar support for parents and caregivers outside the United States.

With U.S. unemployment at historic lows, the ability to attract and retain employees is a significant consideration. In November 2019, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.5%, matching the September rate, which was the lowest since 1969.

Positive for families and employers

The benefits of paid parental leave are many, offering positive outcomes for families and employers. Paid parental leave enables parents to develop a bond with their child without worrying about finances. What’s more, organizations with excellent benefits attract and retain employees, reducing the costs associated with employee turnover. According to one study, employee turnover costs employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement. And compensation and benefits are among the top reasons for employee turnover.

Federal policy

So, what is the state of parental leave in the United States? The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave. Yet, no federal law requires private-sector employers to provide paid leave of any kind. The United States is the lone industrialized country without mandated paid parental leave, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Other countries are ahead of the United States, and in those countries where we operate, we strive to meet or exceed statutory agreements.

But newly signed legislation, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, provides 12 weeks of paid leave for federal civilian employees covered by the FMLA. Signed into law on December 20, 2019, the Act applies to leave taken in connection with the birth or placement of a new child on or after October 1, 2020.

The FMLA is a step in the right direction. But, unless you are a federal civilian worker, the state where you reside may determine your access to paid parental leave. To date, only eight U.S. states (California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington) and the District of Columbia, have passed state paid family leave laws.

Private-industry efforts

Beyond the handful of states with parental leave policies, some employers are establishing policies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18% of private-industry workers have access to paid family leave through their employers. At New Relic, we are proud to offer a gender-neutral policy because research shows gender-neutral paid parental leave promotes equality. We also want to support all parents equally because it’s not only a good policy; it’s the right thing to do.

Recently, Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM and Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee at the nonprofit Business Roundtable, urged policymakers to enact federal legislation to make available paid family and medical leave benefits to as many working Americans as possible. The Business Roundtable, an association of leading U.S. company CEOs, promotes public policy that helps the economy thrive and expands opportunities for Americans.

I’m happy to see growing public and private sector momentum to support working families, and I’m glad to add to the conversation. Are you interested in joining the team? We’re committed to evolving our Total Rewards program to meet the unique needs of our employees, and we’re hiring across multiple departments, from Engineering and Sales to Marketing and People Operations (HR).

*Where applicable, based on statutory regulations and policy.