Meternity: Maternity Leave For Your Childless Employees
Recently the NY Post published an article outlining the benefits of “Meternity.” The concept is that people with no children should be entitled to all of the perks of Maternity Leave without having the kids. The article goes on to state that people in their late 20’s to early 30’s would benefit from a few months away from their desk to get some perspective.
First, let’s go ahead and say what everyone is thinking. Maternity Leave is not a “perk.” Maternity leave is a right given to people who are required to manage a tiny person the rest of their lives. They get to spend a year bonding and getting to know that tiny person. Also, have you met a baby before? They’re pretty inconsiderate.They don’t let you sleep and they literally feed off of you. Maternity leave is designed to force employers to keep jobs vacant for women who have children, and in recent years, it has developed to allow parents (male or female) to take time to stay home with a new child, newborn or adopted. Employers are not required to provide payment to these employees, but some do offer a top-up on the money they receive from the government in return for another six months of work after they return from their leave.
As ridiculous as it sounds, should you decide to provide your employees with a “meternity” leave, there are ways to do it.
- Deferred Leave/Salary – Employees can work additional hours and bank those hours until they have enough banked hours to receive regular pay for the period of time they wish to be absent. They can also choose to work regular hours and opt to receive a reduced wage. The deferred salary can then be paid out over the term of the employee’s absence.
- Extended Leaves of Absence – You can call it what you want. Sabbatical, Educational Leave, etc. If you really want to offer these options to your employees, you are certainly within your right to do so. You are also within your right to provide them without pay.
- Stress Leave – One of the author’s points is around avoiding burnout. There are many other ways to avoid burnout, and you should look into them, but if your employees do burn out, you’ll be on the hook to keep their job open until they come back.
“Meternity” is not a real thing right now, and there is no pressure to run into it. What you should keep in mind is that the types of leave you offer your employees, over and above what is legally mandated, should be part of an overall HR strategy designed to increase engagement and retention, and assist with recruitment. Your employees know what they need to be happy. It’s your job to listen to them and provide what you can.