At a time when the world was talking about how far behind the United States was on adopting fair and progressive family leave policies, Terakeet’s co-founders Mac Cummings and Pat Danial decided it was time to make a change within their own organization. Not only did this change encompass a more liberal maternity and paternity leave, but they also decided that other life events, like taking care of an ill family member, should also be covered.
To learn more about their decision to pursue a more progressive policy, I spoke to Pat Danial about why he felt it was important to update our policy to include dependent care and why he feels these evolving benefits are important in today’s workforce.
Pat Danial: As our Terakeet family has grown through the years, it was only right to further extend our support to the team’s children and spouses. We believe it best to offer both time and financial security as each family determines how best to enjoy and prepare for their own budding families. The United States lags every developed nation in providing a commitment to paid maternity leave laws, so we chose to organize our own internal committee to research and recommend a program more in line with our core values and culture of support.”
With eligibility in line with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that provides new parents with job-protected leave in a calendar year, our Paid Family Leave Policy ensures the first 8 weeks of leave are fully paid with the remaining 4 weeks at half pay. Additionally, this policy allows for employees that need to care for an immediate family member with a serious medical health condition to also qualify for the same leave. Finally, employees that have their own serious medical health condition—like recovering from a surgery—will receive the same benefits, ensuring that along with FMLA’s job protection there is no significant loss of income due to unforeseen health issues.
Terakeet’s policy has been in play for just over a year, and half a dozen employees have had the opportunity to use it. With such a young workforce, we imagine dozens more will benefit from it over the coming years.
A Policy For Our People
Three of our team members that have had the opportunity to use this policy over the past year have done so in different ways. Kim Heffernan, Director of Finance, just welcomed her second baby girl, Bonnie, this spring. Brett Butler, Senior Web Analytics Specialist, just welcomed his second baby boy, Brooks, over the winter. Our Marketing Coordinator RJ Licata used it to take care of a family member. We had the opportunity to interview each of these employees on their experience with this policy and what it meant to them.
Starting a family and working full time is undoubtedly stressful. How has Terakeet’s new Family Leave Policy helped you?
Kim: I was nervous about quite a few things prior to our second child being born, mostly related to how we would be able to handle the logistics of having a toddler and a newborn. It was such a blessing to not feel work-related anxiety because I was about to take several months off. The new policy allowed me to have a singular focus during the first few months of my daughter’s life. Time is truly the most valuable thing when it comes to having children, and you can’t get that time back once it’s gone. The leave also allowed us to continue taking my older daughter to daycare during portions of my leave; it was good for her to stay in her routine, and I was able to focus on recovering and bonding with our little newborn.
How does working for a company that’s adopting progressive benefits like the Family Leave Policy and a Flexible Work Arrangement help you balance your work and personal life?
Kim: Under the flexible work arrangement, I’m not forced to make a choice between work or family. I’m afforded the opportunity to balance both aspects of my life during a time where each week is different than the last. With two kids, there are double the doctors appointments, double the needs at the grocery store, double the mess at home, but no extra hours in the day to take care of it all and work a “normal” day. The flexible work arrangement allows me the ability to factor other things into my week should they come up, and takes the stress and pressure off handling those unexpected issues that might need my immediate attention. I’m able to get my work done and also do what I need to do to care for my family. The fact that this company trusts each one of their employees to do exactly that in the manner and the location that works best for them is incredibly mature and shows how much they value each of us.
You used both Terakeet’s previous and new policy. How did your experience with this new policy compare?
Brett: Both policies are generous, but they are worlds apart, in all honesty. When my eldest son was born, I used paid time off, which Terakeet offers a considerable amount of to their employees. I foolishly only took a week off; only having a few days at home with my wife and new baby turned out to be a poor decision. Fast forward about two years and under Terakeet’s new policy, I had the opportunity to spend an entire month at home with my family. Having this time was incredible to bond with my wife and son, take care of things that might have otherwise fallen on my recovering wife and basically stare at a newborn around the clock. I will forever be grateful to Mac, Pat and Terakeet’s leadership for that opportunity.
How have benefits that offer more family time and flexibility with work allowed you to press forward in your personal life?
Brett: With two young children, fevers, colds, and doctor appointments are commonplace. With Terakeet’s flexible scheduling, it has made navigating these situations simpler. Since the benefit was enacted, I’ve taken advantage of working earlier hours, from 7am to 3pm, which has been incredibly helpful. Not only have I been able to spend more time with my wife and kids, but it has also given us the opportunity to connect with friends and extended family more frequently.
How were you able to benefit from the new Family Leave Policy?
RJ: I was able to use the policy in two ways last year. The first was in helping to get my father to Boston for frequent medical appointments. My wife and I have three small children, and while my mom was my dad’s primary caretaker, she was also our backup babysitter when school was cancelled or the babysitter was unavailable. So the second way I used it was to look after my kids when necessary so my mom could focus on taking care of my dad. I think the important thing to take away from my example is that life can be pretty complicated and it’s nice to be afforded the opportunity to worry about the most important things at the most important times.
What has it been like to work for a company that puts family first and understands the importance of work/life balance?
RJ: I don’t think you can put a price on the peace of mind that a policy like this provides. Knowing that your employer and coworkers are going to support you during a critical time in your life, whether it be something good or bad, is invaluable.