What does it really mean to be family-friendly?

The term often applied to all-ages programming and welcoming environments takes on a new meaning in the workplace, where it refers to increasingly popular employee benefits like paid family leave and flexible schedules.

Last year, legislators in 20 states considered family leave mandates. Such laws—currently enacted in four states and Washington, DC—require employers to cover a portion of wages while a new mom or dad stays home with his or her new child. During his address to Congress this week, President Donald Trump said his administration wants to work with the legislature “to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave.”

Meanwhile, millennials—young parents with shifting expectations for work—are seeking out better policies from their companies, and forward-thinking workplaces from Starbucks to Etsy are boosting family benefits on their own.

Adequate paid leave and subsidized childcare is the most significant way an employer can support workers’ families, according to University of Texas sociologist Jennifer Glass. Her 22-country study found these policies notably impact working parents’ happiness and quality of life, citing examples primarily from the tech and business sectors.

In theory, the demand for paid family leave fits well with Christian values, which encourage and celebrate marriage and the raising of children. What could be more pro-family than polices that allow parents to be home with their child during the first weeks of the child’s life? How then do explicitly Christian institutions navigate paid parental leave and other flexible work policies?

“We strive to create a culture where the family ...

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