Viewpoints from Claire Letourneau

I had one of the best client video calls recently. As our wellness account team joined the Zoom meeting, the first faces that appeared were those of my coworker and her six-month-old son. Smiles all around. Halfway through the call, our client stopped me mid-sentence to have his one-year-old join the cuteness party. The two kiddos were mesmerized by our Zoom. Smiles all around. By the end of the call, my pup wanted in the mix with a good ole hound howl from the other room. Smiles all around. Our client said, “I hope this continues, it’s been so nice to see everyone as real people.” With the veil of formality removed, we reveal the human side of our work selves. I, too, hope this continues. Smiles all around!

With such challenging times upon us, for my own sanity, I try to look for silver linings, the lemonade made from the lemons.

Let’s consider the possibility that with the extensive disruptions related to COVID-19, companies may be more open to helping families thrive – starting with the first months of familydom. There has been a recent flurry of paid family leave legislation passed in various states, and with it comes a significant amount of work from human resources teams to offer what is required and stay compliant. What if companies led the charge instead? What if companies looked at their policies and benefits from the lens of a parent – what could be done differently that encourages the aligned success of the individual, the family, and the business?

Not having children, it’s hard for me to truly understand the challenges of parenthood that are magnified as a working parent. However, countless friends and family have struggled – with issues like how much time to take off unpaid, whether they can afford to take time off unpaid, and what daycare to put their children in as a THREE-MONTH-OLD. It’s hard for me to leave my dog to go to work – I can’t imagine what it’s like to drop off one’s baby at daycare only 90 days into life.

Perhaps through the coronavirus disruption, we’ve unlocked a new world where employers can feel more confident with a flexible workforce

– allowing employees the ability to be paid to be home with their children, shifting to fully flexible at-home work hours when office employees return, considering a rotating hybrid model for employees who must be on site (like an understudy for a play). The options may be endless! Perhaps now, when we’ve had to implement extreme policies to cope with the pandemic, our minds are more malleable to the possibilities. For example, EPIC has just rolled out new Paid Parental Leave (PPL) to employees for its 2021 open enrollment. This includes birth- and non-birth-parents, and children of any age, for the first 12 months of bonding.

So, benefits and wellness community – let me ask the question again.

I won’t hold you to it, but what are your pie-in-the-sky, reach-for-the-stars ideas on how companies can offer meaningful paid family leave that results in success for the baby, the employee, the family, AND the business?


Have a moment? Take five minutes and participate in our Mental Health pulse survey! The survey closes Friday, October 30 and our benchmarking report will be available the week of November 9.


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EPIC offers these opinions for general information only. EPIC does not intend this material to be, nor may any person receiving this information construe or rely on this material as, tax or legal advice. The matters addressed in this article and any related discussions or correspondence should be reviewed and discussed with legal counsel prior to acting or relying on these materials.


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Claire Letourneau Headshot
Claire Letourneau

Senior Account Executive, Wellness – New York, NY