August 8, 2016

It was several years ago that I sat down with my partners to revise Aria’s employee handbook. When we reached the section on maternity and paternity leave, I was shocked to read Massachusetts’ leave requirements. In short, the law did nothing more than ensure some level of job security. It did not guarantee women or men compensation during their time off. At the time, having a baby wasn’t even on my radar, but I knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with this. Most Americans can’t afford to stop receiving a paycheck while they take off the time needed to recover from giving birth and bond with their infant. I was happy to read this week that Massachusetts has a bill in front of the House of Representatives that if passed, will protect employees who must take time off from work to care for a new child. It reaffirmed for me how important it was that back in 2013 my partners and I established our own generous, supportive, inclusive and flexible leave policy.


I was recently able to take advantage of this Aria benefit as I gave birth to a baby girl, Penelope, in May. Before having my baby, I thought our solid family leave policy was about attracting and retaining highly-skilled employees in a competitive job market. But after having a baby, I now understand that there is more to paid maternity/paternity leave than employee retention. It took me six weeks to physically recover from labor, another few weeks to begin to understand my baby’s needs, and another few weeks to get her on a schedule and begin to get some sleep again! I cannot imagine having to show up to work and be a productive team member during this time, and it is truly unconscionable that so many Americans are forced to do just that. Family leave should be a right, not a privilege only offered by the Googles of the world, and I am proud that our little company has a leave policy that gives new parents the time off from work that they need to heal, bond, and have some fun, all while receiving a paycheck. Having fair, paid maternity or paternity leave benefits employees and employers: knowing that your company has your back means you don’t need to make a choice between your baby and your work, and that is a win for everyone.


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Blog post written by:
Jessica Cohen
Author: Jessica Cohen
Executive Vice President