A religious institution well-known for its long-held socially conservative views on gender roles and family structure made waves Wednesday when it rolled out a change in policy. According to a new plan revealed to employees Wednesday, the Mormon church will begin offering paid parental leave to all eligible full-time and benefitted employees.
According to a report from The Washington Post, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will now provide "women who give birth" with six weeks of paid maternity leave. The policy also allows for women and men to take one week of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child.
"The Church continually strives to build the best work environment possible by aligning policies and benefits to help employees provide their very best work to building the Lord's kingdom," an announcement published internally for church employees stated, according to an article from the LDS Church's official website.
The Mormon church's new policy follows a similar one rolled out last year by the Chicago Archdiocese, the third largest Catholic diocese in the nation. Their policy allots all church employees to take up to three months of fully-paid parental leave, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Along with its new paid family leave policy, the Mormon church also rolled out a few notable changes to its famously modest dress code Wednesday. According to the Post, female employees, once able to wear only dresses and skirts, can now wear pantsuits or dress slacks. Men's dress code regulations have also been modified to allow for the addition of "light-colored dress shirts" as opposed to the previously required white dress shirt and tie. The new policy also allows for men to "remove suit jackets or sport coats for hot weather and movement throughout the building."
With no federal law guaranteeing paid parental leave and only three states currently providing new mothers with paid maternal leave, the topic of paid family leave remains a contentious issue of debate as businesses and private institutions outline their own policies, often at the expense of workers.
"Millions of Americans aren't offered a single day off work following the birth or adoption of a child and one in four new moms go back to work 10 days after childbirth," a report from the nonprofit advocacy group Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US) found, as reported by USA Today.