While paid parental leave is fairly standard in other developed countries, it’s less common in the U.S., particularly in the health care industry. Two weeks of paid parental leave are now available to nearly 40,000 Mercy co-workers across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
For co-workers, it’s no small change. Heather Schroeder, a registered nurse in Ozark, Missouri, has fostered children for nearly four years.
“Placement of foster children comes with the same joy and challenges as a birth or adoption,” she said. “To be honest, foster placements often come with more challenges because you are unable to prepare for the children in your home before they come and there are many requirements and tasks to complete within the first week they are placed. I am so thankful to work for Mercy and appreciate that every family, no matter how God chooses to bring them together, is valued.”
In 2017, Mercy surveyed co-workers about benefits and services. Mercy listened and then took action.
“Paid parental leave was one of the top concerns,” said Cindy Rosburg, Mercy’s chief human resources officer. “In the U.S., only about 10 percent of health care organizations offer paid parental leave. Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, never married or had children herself, but she adopted children. She founded the order in Ireland almost 200 years ago to help address critical human needs, especially those of children and mothers. For Mercy, providing paid parental leave is the right thing to do. Catherine would be proud.”
For Mercy, it’s a significant commitment. With 54 percent of Mercy’s nursing workforce under age 40, compared with an industry average of 37 percent, Mercy has a higher ratio of employees at the prime age for having children. In 2017 alone, nearly 1,000 Mercy co-workers gave birth. Although the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires all large employers to provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave, the U.S. has no law requiring paid leave.
In addition to paid parental leave, Mercy is piloting a program to provide child and elder care assistance. Mercy also recently rolled out a program for co-workers to refinance student loans, as well as share the benefit with family and friends. One co-worker refinanced a $314,244 loan, the largest submitted to date, and will likely save almost $80,000 over the life of the loan.
Like paid parental leave, these were some of co-workers’ top concerns.