Courtesy of pixabay.com.
Courtesy of pixabay.com.

About half of Louisville’s 10 largest employers offer at least a month of paid time off for births or adoptions — but the other half offers little to none.

Sportswear company Nike made headlines last week when it expanded paid maternity leave to at least 14 weeks and began offering paid paternity leave of up to eight weeks. Other U.S. companies, such as Netflix, also have begun to offer or expand their options for parents who are expecting a child or plan to adopt.

The issue has garnered attention in presidential debates, with Bernie Sanders calling for a guaranteed 12 weeks of paid leave for both parents.

“Virtually every psychologist who has studied this issue agrees that the first weeks and months of life are enormously important to a newborn’s emotional and intellectual development,” Sanders writes on his website. “It’s understood that mothers and fathers should spend this time bonding with the new person they have brought into the world.”

According to the International Labor Organization, 183 countries guarantee new mothers paid leave, with about a third of those providing 14 weeks off with at least two-thirds of their regular earnings. The U.S. and Papua New Guinea require maternity leave — but unpaid, and only for businesses with at least 50 employees.

General Electric GE AppliancesAmong Louisville’s largest employers, General Electric has the most generous parental leave, offering up to eight weeks of paid time off for mothers, and two weeks parental leave for spouses and adoption. Ford Motor Co. offers up to eight weeks for corporate employees. The company could not be reached to say how much of that leave was available to hourly workers.

The University of Louisville offers six weeks of paid leave for new mothers and fathers, including adoptions, and has done so since 2011.

John Drees, the university’s associate vice president for communications and marketing, told IL that the policy reflects UofL’s efforts to take care of its employees.

“New families face a lot of challenges, not the least of which is bonding time,” Drees said.

Beyond the six weeks of paid time off, parents can take up to six more weeks of accrued vacation.

“Hopefully they can come back somewhat rested,” Drees said.

A good work-life balance also helps the university recruit and retain employees, he said.

humana logoUPS, Louisville’s largest employer, also offers six weeks of maternity leave, while health insurer Humana provides four weeks of paid parental leave for birth or adoption.

Humana said it “is committed to providing contemporary benefits and well-being programs that promote work-life balance.”

At least four major Louisville employers provide little to nothing in terms of paid parental leave.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville provides one week of paid time off for maternity, paternity and adoption, while Jefferson County Public Schools, the metro area’s second-largest employer, KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare offer no paid parental leave.

All employers had varying policies that allow employees to take time off either unpaid or with accrued vacation or sick time while on maternity or paternity leave.

Other prominent local employers, including Yum! Brands, did not respond to requests for information; we’ll let you know if and when they do.

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Boris Ladwig
Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.