Recent developments in Iowa are shedding light on the issue of adoption benefits for adoptive parents.
This week, the Des Moines Register reported that there is legislation in the works that would grant Iowa residents who adopt a child the same workplace protections as those who have a biological child. If this legislation passes, Iowa employers would need to provide adoptive parents with the same work leave to care for their child as they would for those who gave birth to their child. The issue of how this leave would be classified is being debated. For example, to take maternity leave a person claims disability due to the physical challenges surrounding pregnancy and birth. While these physical challenges are undeniable, the adoption process is often emotionally taxing (and lengthy). Should it fall under the same “disability” category? Iowa lawmakers seem to agree that the intent of the Bill is good. The issue that’s being scrutinized is how to classify leave for new adoptive parents.
Adoption benefits are inexpensive and easy to administer. Yet so many employers have not addressed the issue. By adding adoption benefits to a company’s work/life benefit package, it will give a competitive edge in recruitment, enhance a family-friendly image, and increase employee loyalty and retention.
Why else should employers offer adoption assistance?
- It is a low cost work-life addition generally used by less than 1% of eligible employees
- It is supported by 95% of Americans (Harris Interactive Survey)
- To give employees time to bond with a child
- To make adoption more affordable
- To help move children from foster care to loving, permanent adoptive homes
- It’s the right thing to do
What type of benefits can an employer offer?
Adoption benefit policies generally include:
- Financial assistance ranging from $500 to $20,000 (often more for special needs adoption) to reimburse employees for adoption expenses
- Paid leave ranging from one to six weeks, providing the employee with full or partial salary
- Unpaid leave in addition to that mandated by FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) guarantees unpaid leave for adoption for larger employers.
If you’re thinking of adopting or want to know more about corporate adoption benefits, check out your company’s benefits. If they are not adoption friendly, visit www.adoptionfriendlyworkplace.org for help in bringing adoption benefits to your employer. The Adoption Friendly Workplace is a signature program of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The Adoption Friendly Workplace program offers information and tools to help you establish an adoption benefits policy for your employees or propose one to your employer. By visiting and reviewing their website, you can also:
- Learn more about the growing number of companies offering benefits
- Order a free toolkit to establish or propose adoption benefits
- Order free brochures to distribute to adoptive parents or corporations inviting them or order a toolkit
- Learn more about tax benefits for adoption and how to handle employer-provided financial benefits using IRS Form 8839.