Deloitte just upped the ante when it comes to offering paid leave.

In an effort to recognize employees' changing family dynamics, the New York-based professional services firm announced this week that it is offering up to 16 weeks of paid leave for employees to care for a family member--regardless of whether it's for a new baby or sick relative.

Deloitte previously offered paid parental leave--eight weeks for a primary caregiver and three weeks for a secondary caregiver. Under the new policy, both parents are entitled to 16 weeks, and women who give birth can add an additional eight weeks of short-term disability for a total of 24 paid weeks of leave. The policy also covers leave to care for a sick parent, child or partner and may be taken throughout a 52-week period in no less than three business-day increments at a time.

"It's an issue we've been looking at in earnest for months," says Mike Preston, chief talent officer at Deloitte LLP. "Changing dynamics in family structures in our workforce called for a broader family leave policy for all."

And if this sounds like a broader political mission, it's because it is. Preston says workers, especially Millennials, value purpose in companies they work for, and paid leave is one area in which Deloitte, with more than 70,000 employees in the U.S., can push progress. Nike is in a similar position of power with more than 9,200 workers at its headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. It announced eight weeks of paid leave for caregivers in May.

Federal law does not require paid family and medical leave, and only 18 percent of U.S. businesses offer paid family leave, according to the HR professional organization Society for Human Resource Management's 2016 Employee Benefits Survey.

"We see family leave as important on a public policy level," Preston says. "This election cycle, this issue will be front and center, and we think it's a good point for Deloitte to take the lead."

Published on: Sep 9, 2016