A majority (84 per cent) of U.S. employers are planning to make changes to their leave programs in the next two years, according to a new survey by WTW.

The survey, which polled more than 500 U.S. employers, found nearly three-quarters of those that have made or plan to make changes cited supporting attraction and retention strategies (73 per cent) and enhancing the employee experience (72 per cent) as the top drivers for making changes to paid leave, time off or disability programs, followed by diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (32 per cent).

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While most employers already offered paid parental leave, including maternity leave (86 per cent), paternity leave (82 per cent) and adoption leave (82 per cent ), nearly a fifth of those companies said they plan to increase the value of their current programs.

Similarly, while 95 per cent of respondents reported having a bereavement leave policy, 25 per cent said they intend to increase the value of their current offering and half of these companies said they’re planning to expand covered persons/reasons and enhance the benefit/duration. While just a quarter (25 per cent) reported having a paid caregiver leave policy in place, 22 per cent said they’re planning or considering adding it over the next two years.

Notably, more companies said they’re planning to adopt unlimited paid-time-off programs in the next two years. While 12 per cent said they currently have one of these programs in place — up from nine per cent two years ago — another 16 per cent anticipated offering unlimited PTO to exempt employees in the next two years.

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Among respondents that said they don’t currently offer unlimited PTO, 23 per cent had already taken action to change the number of days provided and 22 per cent were planning or considering doing so.

As legislation changes, more employers are finding it difficult to maintain compliance with leave laws, so the prevalence of outsourcing leave programs is expected to increase by 22 per cent in the next two years. Among the 64 per cent of employers that reported outsourcing state family medical leave administration, 54 per cent said they’re considering a move to a new administrator in the next two years.

“Following a great deal of change over the past few years, including how and where people work, employers are recognizing the importance of flexible leave programs that accommodate the diverse needs of their employees and evolving work styles,” said Alex Henry, group benefits leader at WTW, in a press release. “By modernizing time-off programs, employers can create a supportive work environment that fosters engagement and improves the overall employee experience.”

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