Top Places to Work

Meet some trailblazing Mass. companies saying yes to paid family leave

The benefit is still a rarity in the US, but these employers are ahead of the curve.

Scotty Reifsnyder

This article is part of the upcoming Top Places to Work issue. The names of the companies that made this year’s list will be released online Thursday night.

Despite the picturesque setting, it can be tough to attract and retain qualified workers in the oceanside town of Chatham. So William J. Bogdanovich decided this year to launch a perk that may help: paid family leave.

Bogdanovich, chief executive of Broad Reach Healthcare, is offering 80 percent pay for the first eight weeks of leave employees take when they become parents. He estimates it will cost his company, which operates nursing, rehab, and assisted living facilities, about $40,000 a year. But it could help retain good employees who might otherwise leave the company when they have children.

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“There are a lot of indications that enabling people to have that [paid] time right after the birth of a child can make their eventual return to work much more successful,” Bogdanovich says. “So we looked at our ability to support that. You see companies like Google and Bank of America doing it, and you start to say: ‘Why couldn’t we?’ ”

Paid family leave is still a rarity in the United States, one of only a handful of countries without it. Only 12 percent of private-sector workers get paid family leave from their employers, according to the US Department of Labor.

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The law doesn’t require companies to pay workers when they take time off to have a baby or care for a sick family member. But some Massachusetts employers are offering this benefit anyway in an effort to attract good workers and help employees stay financially stable when they have children or need to tend to their families.

Tamr, a tech startup in Cambridge, offers an unusually generous 18 weeks’ paid leave to the primary parent and 10 weeks’ paid leave to the secondary parent. Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, also in Cambridge, gives 12 weeks’ paid leave to the primary parent and two weeks to the secondary parent. Boston-based MeYou Health, a wellness company, gives all new parents six weeks’ paid leave. And Boston software firm Workday gives new parents 20 paid days off.

“We are growing fast,” says Karen Anderson, chief human resources officer at Alnylam. “Offering progressive benefits . . . is always good for business, as it enables you to attract top talent.”

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Such policies are certainly the exception, but many efforts are underway to make paid family leave the norm. The Boston City Council recently approved six weeks of paid leave for city employees who become new parents, and bills that mandate paid leave are under consideration at the State House and in Washington.

The Labor Department is spending $1.6 million on grants to research how paid leave programs can be developed and implemented across the country.

Still, business groups such as Associated Industries of Massachusetts oppose mandated paid leave. Even Bogdanovich, who offers it at his company, doesn’t support new regulations; he likes that offering good benefits can help his company stand out.

“I applaud it more as a choice,” he says. “I think it’s an opportunity to send the statement to current and prospective employees on where the values of the organization are.”

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey is a Boston Globe staff writer. She can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.
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