Bernstein Shur, a New England-based law firm with offices in Manchester, adopted what they are calling an industry-leading parental leave policy. According to a statement, the expanded policy provides 16 weeks of paid leave to all new parents (attorneys and staff members) regardless of gender. The policy removes any distinction between “primary” and “secondary” caregivers and provides equal benefits to all new parents as a result of birth, adoption or foster care placement. The policy provides all new parents with a great deal of flexibility as to how to use their paid leave time, and the policy benefits are immediately available when a new employee joins the firm.
Bernstein Shur’s Board of Directors unanimously adopted the policy after soliciting substantial feedback from all associates and other interested stakeholders. “The firm is committed to supporting all of its employees through the various stages of their careers. This policy change is specifically aimed at supporting new parents during a particularly challenging period,” the statement reads.
Under the expanded policy, the firm’s new parents will have the option to take their leave (a total of 80 business days) any way they choose, as long as it is taken in the first year after becoming a new parent. For example, a new parent could be out of the office entirely for 8 weeks, and then return and take the remaining 40 business days of paid leave by working a three-day work week and getting two paid days off for 20 additional weeks. New parents will retain the ability to take up to an additional 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
“We believe this policy puts our firm in a leadership position on parental leave and we are proud to take this step forward in support of our new parents,” says CEO Pat Scully. “This allows them to focus on the early stages of parenting and to more gracefully and purposefully integrate the demands of work and home.”
“It is a particularly challenging time for attorneys when they become new parents and are first learning to balance the new demands at home with a challenging professional career,” says Joan Fortin, shareholder, director of attorney recruiting and member of the firm’s Board of Directors. “Our firm is always looking for better ways to support our attorneys through this part of their career, so we retain talented people and help them avoid the need to make a choice between family and career. Lower attrition is better for our clients, our people and our bottom line.”
Fortin says the policy intentionally moves away from gender role stereotypes, which presume the mother will be the primary caregiver.
The policy went into effect Monday, May 21, 2018.