KABRITA USA was founded by two mompreneurs and a Dutch company dedicated to making nourishment and education a part of every family’s nutrition journey. We had the unique experience of employing 11 women and one of our first hires was pregnant.
Because KABRITA USA was a new company we were able to write maternity leave policies from scratch. We chose to include our employee in several maternity leave discussions to explore and understand what would best work for both of us. Her desire to continue to work and to spend some time at home following childbirth resulted in a very balanced discussion and a proactive individual plan. That said I think it’s critical to re-evaluate with the employee after a child arrives as personal circumstances can change dramatically with the arrival of a baby.
“It’s critical to re-evaluate with the employee after a child arrives as personal circumstances can change dramatically with the arrival of a baby.”
Ultimately we created documented maternity leave policies to ensure fairness to all employees, based in large part on the idea of a flexible return to work program that was in many ways self directed by the employee. In addition to determining what would work best for them personally the onus was also on them to provide a recommendation for how to maintain their workload while they were off. Our job was to best facilitate this recommendation.
In this first example our employee proposed a gradual return to work plan. She took approximately three months off but was available for phone calls and questions as required by the team filling in during her absence. EI was supplemented at 80% of full salary. After three months she began to work from home for 1-2 days per week. Gradually this evolved to 1-2 days in the office supported by a day at home. This transition happened over a period of about 5 months until she returned to full-time hours. At KABRITA USA full-time included the flexibility to work from home as needed. This on-going work flexibility allowed her to be home with her child when necessary and continue breast-feeding, which included pumping while at work. The gradual, and highly customized transition worked for both our employee and company due to our shared belief that each birth experience and child is unique, and therefore demands customization. This flexibility was also critical in our ultimate certification as a benefit corporation which emphasizes supporting employees with exceptional parental leave.
“each birth experience and child is unique, and therefore demands customization”
Supporting a valuable employee during a parental leave has huge benefits. As a nutrition company selling baby food there was an obvious need to nuture women and families during this phase of life. For other companies outside of the baby category providing both benefits and a flexible return to work program fosters loyalty, employee engagement, morale, positive culture, and minimizes costs associated with training new employees. In many cases work can be covered internally or externally with on-going support from the employee on maternity or parental leave in exchange for the benefits and flexibility offered by the employer. I would say it’s critical for companies to ensure that there is a solid back-up plan and that the role is staffed accordingly based on the individual employee plan. A returning employee will be dealing with many new challenges in terms of work-life balance and coming back to a job that hasn’t been well managed in their absence can mitigate the overall value of the time away.
“having children, and parenting the children is a fundamental human
right and a pillar of society”
Lastly having children, and parenting the children is a fundamental human right and a pillar of society. From a business perspective we need to start with the assumption that most women employees, and many men will eventually take some time away from work to raise a family, and that this is a good thing. The insights that come with motherhood and fatherhood add another dimension to an employees life experience and though they may work differently post parenthood different can also mean better.
CEO, Brand for Benefit
Do Good Business Better.
Brand for Benefit helps companies discover, certify and leverage their greater purpose as a path to sustainable growth.
Formerly CEO KABRITA USA.