Bank of America’s Evolution of Workplace Policies: Insights on New 16-Week Leave Policy for Mothers and Fathers

Mollee D. Harper

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Bank of America recently expanded its parental leave policy from 12 to 16 weeks of paid leave for new mothers and fathers – one of the most competitive offerings across the industry. We sat down with BofA’s Jennifer Darwin, SVP of Corporate Communications for the Carolinas to learn more about this workplace evolution. We also hear from VP, Senior Small Business Banker, Brittany Hilbert of Greenville, SC who recently returned from her second maternity leave and was able to take advantage of these expanded employee benefits resulting in more quality time with her newborn and family.   

Darwin offered, “After regularly hearing from employees and potential hires that now more than ever, they are focused on finding a healthy work-life balance, this was a way for Bank of America to set itself apart from competitors and attract top talent.”

Darwin described, “Our parental leave policy was 12 weeks of paid leave. In 2016, we expanded this policy to 16 weeks. Anyone on leave as of March 30, 2016 was eligible.” 

Hilbert shared, “I have had two children during my tenure with BofA, one under the old policy of 12 weeks leave, and one under the new policy of 16 weeks leave.”

She continued, “When I had my first child, my daughter, who just turned 5, I was in a different role and was excited to get 12 weeks. I had to put her into day care right after that which is hard for all new parents.”

Hilbert described, “With my second child, my son, I was able to take an extra four weeks of leave with him. Even when you are a second time parent, whether you leave your newborn at a day care or with family, it’s difficult. It made such a big difference to have that additional four weeks, which translated to 25% more time with him. It actually made it much easier for me to come back to work. I was less worried about something happening to my baby in my absence since he was four months old instead of three.”

She added, “I’ve been with BofA for seven years. People talk a lot about corporate culture. What’s really nice is that the benefits are really there for you to take advantage of whether you are a mother, father or adopting. My husband’s company doesn’t have this same policy, so he wasn’t able to take that extra time with our child.” 

Hilbert expanded, “We get those 16 weeks you can use at anytime in the first 12 months, so you don’t have to take it all at once. In order to keep your kids out of day care as long as possible, I’ve seen the mother take the first 16 weeks. And, the father will take leave the second 16 weeks to really extend their time with their newborn.” 

Darwin added in, “This really adds up to 8 months of leave if both parents work at BofA. The other aspect here is the money this saves your family by not having to pay for day care during those 8 months.” 

Hilbert offered, “BofA really has built these policies around benefits that are meant to be used. It should also be said that during that time, I had such strong support from my internal team. They all seemed willing to step up and keep me in the loop by email. I never felt like I was a burden to my team because of my prolonged absence. Everyone seems to embrace this policy wholeheartedly. It’s really been built into our culture and makes BofA a great place to work.” 

Darwin said, “Some of the other benefits we offer around this policy include up to $8,000 per child to cover eligible expense from adoption reimbursements. As part of the policy, we also offer backup child care for our employees to help when employees’ regular child care is unavailable for any reason. We also offer temporary adult and child care for our employees. This comes from our partnership with area day cares, or we can even send someone to your house.” 

Hilbert said, “I used that backup day care too. They were really great. I made a phone and it was taken care of for me.” 

Darwin concluded, “We have an average of 8,000 employees a year, across the Bank of America organization that take advantage of our parental leave policy each year, both men and women.”

“In the future, I think you’ll see BofA continue to evolve our workplace policies to make sure we help our employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.”