Parental leave serves as an incentive for Mercy Health - Springfield employees

New parents know not to expect much sleep when they bring home a newborn.

But employees of Mercy Health – Springfield now know that they won’t lose sleep over the amount of paid leave they will be granted after the birth of their baby. Starting at the beginning of 2022, all employees have been eligible upon hire for eight weeks of paid parental leave.

“It sends a very strong message that you and your family will be supported while you work here,” says Megan Douglas, human resources director at Mercy Health – Springfield.

Douglas herself was among the first to take advantage of the new employee benefit. She was about 20 weeks pregnant when she started at Mercy in October. She knew she wanted time off after the birth, but she didn’t expect to be offered so much paid leave.

“I felt really blessed and surprised by what they did offer,” she says. “That was huge for me.”

Newborn Emma joined the Douglas family – Megan and husband Alex, along with one-year-old big sister Ellie – on March 18.

Before January, Mercy’s paid parental leave was limited to two weeks for fathers and typically six to eight weeks of medical leave plus an extra two weeks for mothers. Now fathers get eight weeks total, and mothers receive an extra eight weeks on top of their medical leave.

Offering the eight weeks of leave for mothers is very competitive compared to other employers, but offering the eight weeks of paid leave for fathers, too, “is totally unheard of,” she says.

If both parents work at Mercy, both parents are eligible to take the full amount of paid leave, she says. This also is unusual, since many other employers limit their leave to only one parent.

At many workplaces, employees are made to feel that it is wrong to take a lot of leave, even after the birth of a baby, Douglas says. That isn’t the case at Mercy. Even as a new employee, she was encouraged to take the full leave that she was eligible for and was reassured that family comes first. She was never made to feel bad, and her doubts were assuaged.

“I really appreciate that,” she says.

The new parental leave policy “is a big competitive edge for us,” says Douglas, especially as aging employees leave the workforce. Benefits such as this help to attract younger employees – including new and future parents – from elsewhere, such as Columbus and Cincinnati.

Job hunters often pause their search if they learn that they or their wife is pregnant, Douglas says. The new benefit not only will tap into another pool of potential employees, but also will show them that Mercy will support them both during and after the pregnancy.

“It goes a long way,” she says. 

The extra parental leave joins a wide variety of benefits that Mercy offers to attract and retain employees, including housing incentives, fellowships and tuition assistance.

Ron Kloska, who has been a compensation consultant for Mercy Health since August, covers the Cincinnati market and lives in northern Kentucky. His younger son, George, was born in January, and it was a pleasant surprise to learn that the amount of paid leave he was eligible for would jump from two weeks to eight weeks.

“The colic started right around two to three weeks,” he says. “It would have been very difficult to go back to work at that point in time.”

The extra leave allowed him to build a stronger bond with baby George; help his wife, Natalie, recover; and spend more time with their older son, Frankie, 2.

The expanded parental leave policy is just one thing that makes Mercy stand out from other employers, he says.
“It’s really cool to see Mercy jump out in front and roll this out,” Kloska says.

Read more articles by Diane Erwin.