Pregnancy and childbirth are a time to celebrate, but for working parents and their employers it’s also a time to plan. Some Rochester companies offer new moms several months of paid time off. But our own survey suggests when it comes to maternity leave, Rochester mirrors the rest of the nation, and those companies are the exception rather than the rule.
When Jessica Loiacono was out on maternity leave, her manager at Constellation Brands called her with good news. Under the company’s brand new parental leave policy, she was eligible for extra time off – at full pay. “When I had gone out I had to take one week of personal time off before my disability started, so I was actually able to get that one week of personal time off back, and he let me know I was able to stay out an additional four weeks.” Constellation Brands’ policy is among the most generous in the nation. It offers 16 weeks fully paid leave for new moms, and 8 weeks for new dads.
Locally, JP Morgan Chase also offers 16 weeks of paid leave for new moms. M&T Bank offers 12 weeks. News 8 took a random survey of 30 other top employers in Rochester. Of those who responded, 2 said they offer 12 weeks of paid parental leave. 10 said they offer 6 to 8 weeks. 4 said they offer 6 weeks or less, and 2 said they offer none at all. Under federal law, workers can take up to 12 weeks off for childbirth, without penalty. But that’s unpaid. According to the u.S. Labor department, just 12% of American companies provide paid leave.
Dresden Engle owns her own public relations firm. Her daughters are now ages 11 and 10. Several months after she adopted Aria, she gave birth to Aurora. That year, her former employer offered 10 days fully paid leave. “Two weeks allotted full pay, you have to cobble together the remaining four weeks and then up and have a baby, within 7 months time? I had nothing to cobble together,” she said. “Let’s just say we’re still paying off credit card bills from those days.”
New York State will soon require all employers to offer paid leave, funded by employee contributions. Constellation Brands didn’t wait for a mandate. The company is doing well financially so the time was right to act. Jeff Viviano is the Vice President of Benefits, Health and Wellness. He says the new policy for working parents allows it to compete for the best talent. “We pride ourselves on being an employer of choice,” he says. “We want to continue to build on that.” “Extending this leave, but also making it available to dads is huge,” Jessica says. “Not many companies do that. It’s definitely a place I want to stay.”
In addition to the extended paid leave for new moms and dads, Constellation Brands offers 8 weeks paid leave for adoptive and foster parents. The new family leave policy is for all employees, regardless of gender or orientation.