Mar 18, 2023 - Business

How parental leave policies at Denver's biggest employers compare

Illustration of a stork holding a briefcase.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Denver's largest employers have a range of parental leave policies, from paid time off to reimbursement for adoption expenses.

Why it matters: A host of research shows paid parental leave leads to better birth outcomes, healthier families and household stability.

Driving the news: Job seekers are the most motivated by generous benefits and personal well-being, according to a study from Gallup, and companies see better benefits as a competitive advantage when recruiting talent.

  • In 2022, better pay and benefits ranked at the top of what employees want in their next job, compared to No. 4 in 2015.

What we did: We reached out to the top 10 largest employers in Denver, as ranked by the state's economic development office.

  • The policy details below, and local employee counts, came from spokespersons at the companies.

Of note: Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, certain employees are guaranteed up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave after a year, or 1,250 hours over the past 12 months. Colorado employees are eligible for another 40 hours under state law.

What to watch: Starting in 2024, Colorado employees are eligible for paid leave and will receive a portion of their paycheck (up to $1,100 a week). Employees cover the state's cost of the program through a payroll deduction.

City of Denver

The City of Denver has 8,000 employees who are eligible for their paid family leave program called Care bank.

Paid family leave: The Care bank offers all parents, including adoptive, eight paid weeks of leave.

Transition back to work: Some employees can return to work part-time or in a limited capacity.

Fertility: Parents who experience a miscarriage or pregnancy loss are able to take off up to eight weeks paid.

  • Denver's medical insurance plans provide three completed egg retrievals, unlimited embryo transfers and fertility preservation measures.


In the Denver area, HealthONE has 11,600-plus employees.

Paid family leave: HealthONE offers eight weeks of paid maternity leave for primary caregivers and two weeks for secondary caregivers.

  • Those who adopt have a minimum of two weeks paid leave.

Transition back to work: Employees have a few options for returning to work, including longer personal leave or extended medical leave, if needed.

  • Some HealthONE employees are able to transition to part-time work or PRN (per diem) hours.

Fertility: HealthONE partners with Progyny, which provides supplemental fertility coverage at no extra cost for employees.

  • Employees experiencing pregnancy loss or miscarriage are eligible to apply for medical leave and short-term disability benefits.
  • Employees can also get eight free counseling sessions with Optum.

Adoption: Through an application process, employees can be reimbursed up to $12,000 for adoption expenses like attorneys fees, home studies and transportation expenses required to bring the child home.

Century Link

Century Link, a Lumen Technologies brand, has approximately 4,490 in the Denver metro area.

Paid family leave: All employees receive eight weeks of paid parental leave. This applies to adoption, surrogacy or biological means.

  • Birth mothers also may be eligible for six to eight weeks of short-term disability prior to the eight-week family leave.
  • Full-time employees can work fewer hours during the first four weeks back to work following birth or placement of a child.

Fertility: Employees can access supplemental fertility benefits through either Progyny or Fertility Solutions to cover costs of testing, medication, egg or sperm preservation, etc.

  • Employees can take 10 paid days off and an additional 20 unpaid days off in the event of a miscarriage.

Adoption: Lumen employees can be reimbursed up to $5,000 per adopted child, or up to $6,000 for children with special needs.

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente has approximately 6,000 employees, most of whom are based in the Denver metro area.

Paid family leave: Kaiser Permanente doesn't offer paid family leave. Instead, employees can use PTO or paid sick days.

  • Birthing parents can use short-term disability.
  • They offer flexible return-to-work plans when medically necessary.

Fertility: Fertility services, including IVF and medications, are offered at the same copays as all other medical services.

Western Union

Western Union has 912 Denver employees.

Paid family leave: Primary caregivers get 18 weeks of paid parental leave, and secondary caregivers get 10 weeks of paid leave.

Fertility: Medical insurance provides coverage for fertility testing and treatment, IVF, etc. There's a lifetime max of $25,000.

  • They offer three days of bereavement for pregnancy loss and miscarriage.

Adoption: Parents who adopt can receive 10 weeks of paid leave, and up to $10,000 reimbursement for adoption expenses.

  • Foster parents are eligible for 10 weeks of paid leave.

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