United Way of Greater Cleveland demonstrated its continuing commitment to creating an inclusive workplace for its employees with the addition of a 12-Week Paid Parental and Family Medical Leave policy.
The policy, which went into effect on July 1, entitles eligible employees to 12 weeks of 100 percent paid leave as they welcome a new child into their home. The policy covers employees who are birth parents and those who are adopting a child or taking on the role of guardian of a child who resides in the same household. It also supports employees needing time off for health reasons or to care for a family member.
Leave may be used as needed, providing flexibility for employees to use the time off in a way that best meets their individual needs and situations.
The move is a direct outcome of United Way’s ongoing Coffee + Camaraderie sessions, where President & CEO Sharon Sobol Jordan and staff members meet to get acquainted and share ideas. These meetings include discussions about how the organization can remove some of the common barriers found in the workplace that impact employee success.
A Growing Need
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 74 percent of workers in the private sector do not have access to paid family leave and access is not evenly distributed. For the lowest 10 percent of earners, about six percent have access, for part-time workers it is 12 percent, and full-time workers are at 28 percent.
Knowing firsthand the choices that employees face when it comes to finding a healthy work/life balance and wanting to further position United Way as a catalyst for change, Jordan empowered the Human Resources Department to implement an expanded policy.
The resulting work further establishes United Way as an organization that values its employees and is committed to their well-being, according to Michael Brown, Senior Director of Human Resources.
“As we seek to fulfill the mission of United Way, it is important for us as an organization to not only talk the talk but also walk the walk, and where better to begin that process than within our own organization,” Brown said. “Times have changed, and it is now time for us to stand for the very people who help make the organization successful and show them that we not only hear them, but we also are responding to and supporting them.”
A Model for NE Ohio
In addition to supporting its employees, the expanded policy aligns with the Social Determinants of Work Initiative launched by United Way in 2022. The initiative focuses on eliminating barriers keeping people from achieving economic mobility, including an increase in job flexibility by implementing Paid Time Off and Paid Family Medical Leave policies.
“People should not have to choose between a paycheck and caring for a new child, a family member or themselves,” according to Renée Timberlake, Director of Economic Mobility. “Choices like that put people in impossible predicaments with high costs to their financial and emotional well-being.
“We want to develop an inclusive workforce, and we want people in various life situations to be able to work at United Way. We also know that women are traditionally excluded from the workforce, because they are often the primary caregivers. This new policy demonstrates our commitment to the lives and well-being of all United Way employees and puts into action our support of employer practice changes that lead to greater financial stability and mobility.”
United Way is also currently working on an employer toolkit that helps other organizations who wish to adopt a similar Paid Family and Medical Leave policy, according to Timberlake.
United Way of Greater Cleveland remains committed to creating solutions that improve lives and our community. The newly implemented 12-Week Paid Parental and Family Medical Leave policy is the latest example of that commitment.