Feb 13, 2023 - News

North Texas is a top area for parental leave benefits

Illustration of a battery icon, but the outline is shaped like a bottle of milk.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

North Texas offers some of the best parental leave policies in the country, a new report says.

Why it matters: Men re-entered the labor market "in droves" after COVID shutdowns, but more than 1 million women left the labor force between February 2020 and January 2022.

  • Child care was a top reason for leaving the workforce, but companies have the power to slow that trend, according to a new report by Fort Worth-based Best Place for Working Parents and the SMU Center on Research and Evaluation.

Context: Every year, the Best Place for Working Parents determines the best employers — and cities — for working parents.

  • Roughly 1,100 employers have been named a Best Place for Working Parents since December 2019, out of over 1,700 companies that have applied for the designation.
  • The list includes dozens of companies from North Texas, including BNSF Railway, Baylor Scott & White Health, and Frontier Communications.

What they found: "Family friendly is no longer a 'nice to have' but really a 'must have,'" Sadie Funk, director of the Best Place for Working Parents, tells Axios.

  • Paid time off, flexible hours, remote work and company-paid health care are among the top parental benefits offered nationwide.
  • Companies can sweeten their benefits with paid parental leave, onsite child care, backup child care, flexible hours, remote work and dependent-care FSAs.

Zoom in: Fort Worth ranks third for its number of companies that offer employee health care.

  • Dallas ranks first for paternity leave and nursing benefits and second for maternity leave and child care assistance.

By the numbers: An average business with 250 employees could save $75,000 per year by subsidizing care for employees' sick children to avoid lost work time, per the report.

  • 70% of women who left the workforce said they would have stayed if they had access to a more flexible work schedule.
  • And for businesses suited for remote work, employees working from home increased performance by 13% and overall attrition rates declined by 50%.

Of note: Private nursing spaces and lactation support programs — which tend to be cheaper than other benefits — have also led to big payoffs for companies, yielding a 94% retention rate for mothers returning to work after having a baby.

The bottom line: Parental benefits aren't just for large organizations with big budgets — smaller companies can try them too.

  • "There's no one policy you have to have but really there is a suite that you can pull together to best support your employees in a way that's still doable for your business," Funk says.
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