EY's Paid Parental Leave Policy in U.S. Increased To 16 Weeks for New Moms and Dads

U.S. Firm Now Leads Professional Services in Paid Time Off For New Parents

Ernst & Young LLP parents-to-be will celebrate more than just the arrival of their new child come July 1, 2016.

EY announced this month that new mothers and fathers in the U.S. will now be eligible for up to 16 weeks of fully paid parental leave. The new parental leave policy is available to men and women welcoming a child through birth, adoption, surrogacy, foster care or legal guardianship. EY also announced that it will provide generous benefits for fertility, surrogacy and adoption. On average, nearly 1,200 EY people in the US, half of which are men, take paid parental leave each year.

Upon the arrival of a child, EY’s current US policy offers 12 weeks for new birth mothers and six weeks for dads and adoptive parents, subject to eligibility requirements. The new policy increases benefits for all eligible parents and positions EY as a 1st mover in equalizing parental leave benefits for men and women among the Big Four, Accenture, IBM and other professional services firms.

“Creating a work environment where people have greater control over their work and life responsibilities is essential to their personal needs, critical to our business success and is another important way our purpose of building a better working world comes to life,” said Stephen R. Howe Jr., EY’s US Chairman and Americas Managing Partner. “Providing our people with equal benefits unmatched in professional services, not only demonstrates our commitment to helping our families succeed, but also empowers all of our parents men and women – to take advantage of this special bonding time with their child before returning back to work.”

“Traditional gender responsibilities at work and home are evolving and resulting in the need for more progressive parental leave policies to better support women and men in the workplace,” said Karyn Twaronite, EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Officer. “With this in mind, we’ve expanded our parental leave benefits to enable all of our people to have the flexibility they need to manage their family needs, career demands and transitions, while continuing to experience dynamic career opportunities and development.”

The new benefits will also offer financial assistance of up to $25,000 per family for adoption, advanced reproductive technology procedures (ART) including for surrogacy, and medically-necessary egg and sperm freezing. The new policy increases adoption benefits, makes ART and/or surrogacy benefits available to both same sex and opposite sex couples. These financial assistance benefits will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

“As the definition of “family” continues to evolve, it was important for EY to take a bold step that supports all our people and their many different “pathways to parenthood,” said Carolyn Slaski, EY Americas Vice Chair of Talent. “These new benefits will not only continue to attract and retain the best talent, but help us to deliver exceptional client service, while also encouraging our people to live fulfilling lives.”

EY’s marketplace research has also uncovered the impact paid parental leave benefits have on employees and businesses. Earlier this year, EY and the Peterson Institute for International Economics released a global survey that explored gender equity issues within executive-level positions. The survey found that the countries with the highest percentages of women in leadership, including in the boardroom and at the executive level, offered fathers 11 times more paternity leave days than those countries at the bottom. Additionally, last year EY’s global generational research found that 38% of US millennials would move to another country with better paid parental leave benefits and men were more willing to change jobs or give up a promotion, to better manage work and family than women. Findings like these, further demonstrate how paid parental leave policies help recruit and retain top talent.

The new benefits have also been a key area of focus for EY since joining the Working Parents Support Coalition announced at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting last fall. Coalition members committed to implementing a range of parental workplace support practices that ultimately improve outcomes for both families and companies from longer paid parental leave to providing transition support coaching for mothers and fathers before and after paid parental leave. One of EY’s commitments was to encourage more men to take more of their paternity leave. By increasing leave for men from 6 weeks up to 16 weeks, EY hopes its men understand EY’s serious commitment to enabling them to become the kind of parents they want to be and encourages them to take the time to co-parent with their spouse/significant other in the case of a couple. EY also committed to expanding their Career and Family Transitions program (see below) as well as continuing to focus on flexibility for all.

In addition to these enhanced benefits, EY also provides a comprehensive package of family-friendly support services to help new and expectant parents manage work and caregiving responsibilities. These include:

  • Career and Family Transitions Coaching program – Through individual coaching sessions and resource materials, internal coaches help parents plan for transition needs before, during and after parental leave. To date, approximately 700 parents have participated – and almost 20% of them are fathers.
  • EY’s lactation program EY provides nursing moms with prenatal breastfeeding webinars, a free hospital-grade breast pump and travel kits for our mothers who have to travel. Kits ship milk home overnight when traveling for business and/or-related EY events. EY also provides pre- and post-natal counseling sessions, and help establishing pumping and feeding schedules. These services are also available to the firm’s professionals and their spouses or domestic partners. Privacy rooms are available in EY offices for our moms to continue to pump while at work.
  • EY Assist – Parents also have access to numerous child care resource and referral benefits including a number of back-up care options for their children with Bright Horizons (BH) and Care.com. Additionally, new parents will now have 24 days of subsidized care with BH’s in-home or center-based care in the first year of a child’s life. In addition, EY reimburses up to $400 in back-up care expenses for parents who are traveling, use neighborhood care, etc.
  • Professional Networks EY has recently expanded its Working Moms and Dads Professional Networks to be more integrated and inclusive, and its Todays Families Network (TFN) demonstrates that our people grow their families in a variety of ways. Additionally, EY provides single mothers and fathers with a guide for navigating parenthood called, Single Parents: on your own, not alone.

“We’ve learned through our Global People Survey (GPS) that our working parents are our most engaged U.S. employees,” added Mr. Howe. “We want to continue to support everyone in this group.”

EY’s commitment to building and maintaining a supportive working environment for its employees has not gone unnoticed. For the 18th consecutive year, EY was named one of FORTUNEmagazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For ” (2016). The firm has also been named Working Mother magazine’s 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers; DiversityInc magazine’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity (2015) for 12 years; Great Place to Work’s World’s Best Multinational Workplaces list (2015); and NAFE Top Companies for Executive Women (2015).

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