A new survey report from the International Foundation reveals current paid leave trends in workplaces throughout the U.S. The Paid Leave in the Workplace 2024 Survey Report provides a glimpse into what organizations are offering for vacation, sick leave, parental leave and bereavement leave.

When I spoke with Julie Stich, CEBS, VP of Content at the Foundation, more on the topic, she said that paid time off (PTO) is a commonly offered benefit that might be overlooked when discussing flexibility as part of organizational culture. Employers can take advantage of PTO design because one-size-fits-all arrangements may not work in their environment as they once did. Flexible PTO offerings can attract new candidates, avoid burnout and retain star employees by allowing them to best align work and their lifestyle, outside of a strict nine-to five schedule.

Although federal law does not require employers to offer vacation time to their workers, the overwhelming majority (99%) of organizations surveyed offer this benefit. For most organizations, the number of paid vacation days increases with service. Only 12% offer a flat number of vacation days regardless of service.

A heavy workload (44%) and lack of adequate staffing (23%) are two main reasons workers do not use paid vacation. Roughly three quarters of employers encourage employees to take paid vacation days but do not require a minimum number of days.

According to the survey report, nine percent offer unlimited PTO or unlimited vacation. Most organizations that have unlimited PTO began offering it within the last four years.

Sick Leave
Almost all organizations offer paid sick leave (97%), with 10% mandated by state/local laws. Unlike PTO and vacation, most organizations provide a flat number of sick days regardless of length of service for workers. Most organizations offer between six to 10 days for both salaried and hourly workers. A small percentage (11%) of organizations allow employees to donate sick time to employees in need.

Paid Parental Leave
Paid parental leave is offered by 62% of organizations, and most (77%) offer a salary/wage during the leave. The most popular types of paid parental leave offered include:

  • Adoption (76%)
  • Bonding (68%)
  • Maternity (67%)
  • Paternity (66%)
  • Parental/family leave (leave for a parent, regardless of gender, above and beyond legal requirements) (64%)
  • Foster care (50%)
  • Surrogate leave (intended parents, not the surrogate) (32%)
  • Leave related to a miscarriage (29%)
  • Fertility treatment (8%).

Bereavement Leave
Bereavement leave is the most prevalent type of paid family leave (90%). Most of the organizations that offer bereavement leave do so in a separate plan, and the average number of days off provided varies by the relationship of the deceased to the employee—Close friend/chosen family (1 day), aunts/uncles/cousins (2 days), in-laws (4 days), grandparents (4 days), immediate family (5 days).

Bereavement leave policies were originally enacted to give employees time to handle the logistics of funeral arrangements, which is why most employers still offer a fairly low number of days—typically three. Employers have increasingly realized, however, that employees need more time to grieve. Expanding bereavement leave policies is a potentially low-cost benefit that can go a long way in supporting employees.

For more information and to access the full survey report, visit www.ifebp.org/paidleave2024.

Anne Patterson

Associate Director, PR and Communications Favorite Foundation Product: Foundation Community. It’s like LinkedIn but only for Foundation members. They can post questions, share best practices, etc—all with fellow members who also live and breathe employee benefits. Benefits-related Topics That Interest Her Most: Mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, behavioral decision making, family-forming benefits, payroll audits. Personal Insight: When she’s not busy keeping up with her two little ones, Anne finds joy in home renovation and décor, haiku writing, watching Jeopardy, crafting charcuterie boards, and bicycling.

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