Senior Counsel John Litchfield was quoted in a SHRM
article, “Phased Maternity Leave Enhances Parental Benefits
,” about the expansion of parental leave benefits by many U.S. companies.
Litchfield said employers that provide paid child-bonding leave should review their policies to determine whether they apply similarly or differently to men and women, and to natural parents, adoptive parents and same-sex couples.
If a bonding-time policy applies differently to different categories of parents who fall within a protected status, either at the federal or the state level, “then the policy may invite a claim of disparate treatment on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, familial relations or some other protected category,” he said.
Employers can distinguish medical leave for new mothers from child-bonding time, offering the latter to mothers and non-birth parents equally, he added.