Of all employment benefits, you would think that the Church would be leading the way on family leave. After all, what’s more pro-life and pro-family than giving paid time off to workers to bond with a newborn child or care for a sick family member? And in fact some are. In 2016, the Archdiocese of Chicago drew national attention when it announced 3 months of paid parental leave for employees with a newborn. But website FemCatholic investigated nationwide and found that the situation in the Church nationwide was decidedly mixed.
FemCatholic reached out to the 176 dioceses across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., to confirm their family leave policies. Through telephone interviews with current and former diocesan employees, FemCatholic ascertained that 31 dioceses offer fully paid maternity leave policies, 32 provide some percentage of employee salaries through either short-term disability or state paid leave laws, and 44 do not offer any paid leave.
Catholic institutions in the United States – Churches, schools, hospitals, and other organizations – employ upwards of one million workers. We have a wonderful opportunity to evangelize the world through our labor relations and employment policies. When Church institutions implement policies like paid parental leave, they send an important signal to lay Catholics in business leadership. The FemCatholic report should be a wake-up call for Catholic institutions across the United States.