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Best and worst U.S. agency parental leave policies revealed

The most progressive are clear. The ancient are even clearer.

Here are all the parental leave policies for every major ad agency and other shops in America as of March 2019. Nothing more, nothing less.

Campaign US approached around 20 agencies, brand in-house teams, consultancy creative wings and holding companies to compile a comprehensive list of maternity/paternity offerings.

The research yielded no consistency among policies.

It did, however, reveal stark differences which point to an industry that still has a very long way to go in terms of equality and better support for new parents.

Notable, progressive agency policies include 72andSunny’s primary caregiver six months of paid protected leave with an additional month of flex time prior to and post leave — and a Bugaboo stroller.

Wieden+Kennedy covers up to $15,000 on a core plan or $30,000 on a buy-up plan for infertility treatment and egg-freezing storage.

Other shops offer flexible (unlimited, in some cases) vacation time and thousands of dollars worth of reimbursable food.

Less favorable policies are outlined below.

Research conducted by the 3% Movement last year found that 80 percent of mothers and 67 percent of fathers are seriously considering leaving advertising because they don’t feel they have the support needed to integrate work and family.

“In the next decade, 64 million Millennials are expected to become parents,” explained Lisen Stromberg, partner and COO at the 3% Movement. “Pair that with the fact that the average age for talent in advertising is in the early 30s and you can see that our industry is facing a parenting tsunami.”

She stressed: “Agencies must offer meaningful support to both mothers AND fathers if they want to attract and retain the best talent.

“In 2017 Where We Stand research, we learned that best-in-class agencies offer three months or more fully paid universal leave to new mothers and new fathers. They also offer on-ramping support after parental leave including flexible schedules and coaching to ease the transition back.

“What remains now is a commitment to childcare support. Once we have that, then we will be an industry that is truly committed to our most precious resource: our talent.”

America is the only industrialized country in the world with no government-mandated parental leave. Advocacy group Pledge Parental Leave is actively inspiring change and encouraging the private sector to step up.

It was started by a group of New York agency leaders who united in 2016 to push for creative agencies and companies across the U.S. creative industries to install three months of fully paid leave for the primary caregiver, three months of uninterrupted health insurance, a six-month guarantee that their position is held and a commitment to publishing their benefits online for public viewing.

Jules Ehrhardt, founder of Pledge Parental Leave, said: “The creative industry often cites its gender diversity problems in senior leadership roles, yet fails to implement policies that support that diversity.

“A meaningful parental leave policy for working parents is a 101 in that regards. It not only makes moral sense and fosters healthier company culture, but it also makes business sense as it’s cheaper to retain talent than lose talent.

“It is outrageous to be billing clients tens or hundreds of millions for projects, and at the same time not extending this common decency of support to your staff. There should be no hiding.”

All of those Campaign US contacted responded in some form. Wording below has been provided directly by spokespeople or pulled from employee contracts with the company’s knowledge.

Wording in italics is a Campaign US summarized version of what was supplied by the agency.

The majority of holding companies shared group-wide policies. MDC Partners and WPP agencies house individual terms.

Newly-merged shops including VMLY&R and Wunderman Thompson declined to share their current policies as they continue to review benefits.

It is Campaign US’ hope that this list grows and evolves to document progression in our industry. To that end, we encourage you to contact us with your policies for inclusion.


Baseline for all U.S. agencies including — and not limited to — McCann, FCB, Huge, Golin, Hill Holliday, Huge, MullenLowe, The Martin Agency R/GA and UM
Employees may receive 100 percent of their pay for up to six weeks for a qualifying event including: the birth or care of a newborn child, an adopted or foster care child upon placement with the employee, or to care for a child, spouse, domestic partner (as defined by Interpublic’s benefit plans) or parent with a serious health condition, or to care for the employee’s own serious health condition to the extent not covered 100 percent under Short-Term Disability.

One hundred percent eligibility for this benefit is met after only one month of service. Leave is available on a rolling twelve-months basis; similar to FMLA.

Short-Term Disability — which is a form of insurance IPG provides to replace income during the initial weeks of a disabling illness or accident — was enhanced back in 2016 to provide more weeks of salary continuation at 100 percent pay. The chart below illustrates the enhancement.

While the agency follows IPG’s policy, the L.A. office has implemented other progressive benefits in addition to the base.

Three and a half months (14 weeks) of 100 percent pay for moms (and that could extend if an employee is disabled longer) along with four additional weeks of unpaid/job-protected time. Three months (12 weeks) of leave for dads/six weeks of 100 percent pay. Four-day work week for both dads and moms, upon returning from leave for three months. Monthly parenting group with certified family therapist and parenting consultant available to all parents. Unlimited vacation time and flexible work schedule. Newborn photoshoot. Breast milk concierge for traveling moms.

MDC Partners

CP+B gives new mothers and fathers 100 percent paid leave for a period of 12 weeks and an additional four weeks transition to work. The policy provides leave for parents at the birth, adoption, foster or guardian placement of a child. In addition to parental leave, CPB has an unlimited vacation policy.

Forsman & Bodenfors New York
Ursula Cuevas, Talent + Benefits said on behalf of the company:

Our parental leave policy provides eligible employees with three months paid leave plus three months optional unpaid leave plus three months of returnship for the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. We ask the parental leave commence within the first 12 months of the birth or adoption.

Under the returnship policy, the new parent is permitted to work from home for up to 50 percent of his/her first two weeks back after the conclusion of the parental leave, and up to 25 percent for the next 10 weeks.

The agency has an employee-led resource group for new, current, and soon-to-be parents called The Village.

MDC Corporate
MDC Corporate has a family leave policy that is inclusive of all new families, including adoption, birth, same-sex couples, etc. Primary caregivers get 16 weeks at 100 percent salary continuation. Secondary caregivers get two weeks at 100 percent salary continuation, and can take an additional eight weeks with prorated pay.

MDC Corporate also gives new parents a stroller and offers fertility benefit of up to $10,000.

Three months fully paid time off. No interruption or change to healthcare benefits. Able to use any accrued, unused PTO to extend paid time. Return to work options: 1) up to three months unpaid, job-protected. 2) four day reduced work week/pay for one month (and able to extend upon review). 3) five day week, full pay, WFH 1 day per week for one month (and able to extend upon review). Employees are eligible for this after six months of full-time employment  at Anomaly.

Secondary caregiver receives up to eight weeks fully paid time off. Option to take additional two weeks unpaid (with PFL benefits). May use unused, accrued PTO to extend paid leave time. No interruption or change to healthcare benefits. Employees are eligible for this after six months of full-time employment at Anomaly.

At 72andSunny, primary caregivers receive six months of paid protected leave with an additional month of flex time prior to and post leave as well as six months of uninterrupted medical insurance. Secondary caregivers receive up to six weeks of paid protected leave with the additional month of flex time prior to and post leave as well as four weeks of uninterrupted medical insurance.

All new parents also receive a Bugaboo stroller or gift card when their child arrives. Until there is universal support in the U.S. that recognizes the importance of this support, companies need to lead the way and help tip the scales. We’re committed to reviewing our parent policy on a regular basis to evolve it as needed.

Additionally, the agency is home to a very flexible vacation policy which. Hospital grade breast pumps are available at each U.S. office. 72andSunny covers the cost for breastfeeding moms to ship their milk home to their baby if they have business travel when they return from leave. L.A. office will gain access to a brand new emergency backup childcare facility (Brella) that is opening at The Runway in August 2019. The agency is providing 10 hours of back up care for each parent with children (newborn to 12-years-old).


Baseline for all U.S. agencies including — and not limited to — BBDO, DDB, TBWA, Omnicom Media Group
Eligible full-time U.S. employees receive a minimum of eight to 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, depending on the period of disability related to the pregnancy. Employees can supplement that time with paid time off (e.g. personal days, sick leave), as well as paid leave in accordance with the laws of various states and cities.

Details of employee tenure length to qualify for maternity leave were not provided.


GREY Group

Full-time Grey New York employees are eligible for up to 18 weeks paid leave upon the birth or adoption of a child.

The agency also offers: Flex Time program that allows employees to work from home one day per week or adjust their working hours early/late; a reduced/four-day work week for less salary and; My Morning Zone — one morning each week, employees can schedule some time to themselves before coming in to the office.

As our legacy agencies come together under VMLY&R, we are in the process of reviewing and aligning our policies in 2020 to offer progressive benefits for our people. Agency culture is critically important to us, and we want to ensure that we are investing in strong benefit offerings that support inclusive environments where everyone can thrive.

Wunderman Thompson
As we go through the necessary steps to bring our agencies together, we are not only reviewing our current legacy agency processes, but thoughtfully researching the best possible industry practices. Our goal is to establish a new set of procedures — that are inclusive of and generous to all parents — by 2020.

Sixteen weeks of paid primary caregiver leave for time off leading up to or immediately following the birth or adoption of a child. The primary caregiver may request up to 10 additional weeks of parental leave without pay. They can also add any unused PTO.

In addition, primary caregiver may work three-quarters time (e.g., 32 hours a week for a 40-hour-a-week employee) for the first three months after returning from primary caregiver leave. Eligible employees will be paid as if they are full-time during this reduced schedule period.

Swift provides eligible employees who are not the primary caregiver with four weeks of paid parental leave for time off leading up to or within six months following the birth or adoption of a child.

To be eligible for parental leave or primary caregiver leave, you must be a regular full-time employee; have been employed by Swift for at least six months as of the start of your leave; and be the natural parent, same-sex spousal equivalent, or new adoptive parent.

AKQA allows up to 24 consecutive weeks [or six consecutive months] parental leave for approved primary caregivers immediately following the birth of the child or becoming the parent through adoption. ?

Of the 24 weeks, AKQA will provide 100 percent paid leave for twelve weeks for primary caregivers who have less than one year of service. For each additional full year of service, AKQA will provide an additional two weeks of 100 percent paid leave, up to a maximum of six months of paid leave.

AKQA will reimburse a primary caregiver for up to $1,000 of take-out food purchased during the primary caregiver leave. This includes online grocery delivery, e.g. Fresh Direct. In addition, the agency provides a return-to-work buddy for the period of transition.

Secondary caregivers receive 100 percent paid leave for up to six weeks, regardless of tenure, and can be taken any time during a 12-month period following birth or adoption. They are reimbursed $500 of take-out/online grocery food during this time.

Primary caregiver: employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of full pay when on a leave. Non-primary caregiver leave: employees who are not primary caregivers are eligible for up to four weeks of full pay.

In addition, primary caregivers are eligible for child rearing leave. This is a leave of up to 12 weeks, beginning six weeks after the child’s birth.

Once the primary caregiver is ready to return to work, the employee will be able to return on a part-time basis (minimum of 20 hours per week). The period of transitional leave is not to exceed twelve weeks total.

GroupM (including Mindshare, MediaCom, Wavemaker, m/Six, Xaxis)
Employees with a minimum of one year of service, who are eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as a result of the (i) birth of an employee’s child, (ii) adoption of a child by an employee, or (iii) placement of a foster child in the employee’s home, will be provided with 12 weeks of paid leave for mothers who have given birth, or 6 weeks of paid leave in all other cases.

While the Company is providing an employee with paid parental leave, any Short Term Disability (STD) or Workers’ Compensation payment to which they are entitled will be assigned to and kept by the Company or the employee’s salary continuance payments will be reduced by like amount so that in no event does an employee receive more than 100 percent of their base salary.

Flexible work options may be available if the new mother is not able to return to work full time after birth. They may choose to work a three day or four day schedule (at reduced pay) for up to 90 days after the expiration of paid parental leave.

GroupM entities also offer an adoption program, access to caregivers, new parent coaching and Milk Stork — a “breast milk shipping company for business traveling breastfeeding moms.”

All full-time and part-time Essentials with a minimum of three consecutive months of employment are eligible for parental leave.

Essence will provide up to twelve weeks of paid parental leave to a birthing parent and up to six weeks of paid parental leave to a non-birthing parent following the birth of a child or the placement of a child in connection with adoption or foster care.


Including — and not limited to — Publicis Communications, Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi, Rokkan and MSL.
Publicis Communications offers six weeks of fully paid parental leave to its employees. New parents can also apply for the New York Paid Family Leave to add an extra four weeks of parental leave, with a total leave of 10 weeks. Additionally, for mothers, Publicis Groupe also offers six to eight weeks of short-term disability which provides our moms with a total leave of 16 to 18 weeks.

Recognized by the Human Rights Campaign’s Best Places to Work for LGBT employees, Saatchi & Saatchi and Publicis Worldwide offers employees $10,000.00 towards surrogacy and adoption which further enriches the employee experience towards becoming a parent.

Additionally, MSL offers new mothers the option to work from home one to two days per week, for the first six to eight weeks as a phase back upon completion of their maternity leave. New fathers may opt for flexible hours or work from home time during the first six to eight weeks of the child’s arrival.


All U.S. Havas groups
Our parental leave policy allows for 12 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers. A primary caregiver is the person who has primary responsibility for the care of a child immediately following birth, adoption, or surrogacy. For secondary caregivers, defined as someone who has secondary (non-primary) responsibilities for the care of a child immediately following birth, adoption, or surrogacy, the policy allows for two weeks of paid leave.

In addition, to help smooth this transition, a group of Havas New York female creatives and our U.S. Benefits team created an internal parental leave website that serves as a valuable resource for our Havas parents, helping them to navigate the parental leave process and supporting them during their transitions into and returning from leave.

Dentsu Aegis Network

All U.S. shops including — and not limited to — mcgarrybowen, Carat, 360i and Isobar
We have one policy for all genders called parental leave. U.S. Dentsu Aegis Network employees are entitled to take up to 16 weeks paid time off separate from our PTO within one year of the birth, adoption and or fostering of a child. This time may be taken in two separate occasions within the first year or on solid block of time. It’s effective day one that an employee starts here.

Other agencies and shops with an adland presence

Wieden + Kennedy
We offer four months of fully paid leave for mothers who gave birth, and two months fully paid leave for all parents (birth, adoptive, foster). We also provide protected leave for up to six months.

Both full-time and part-time employees are eligible for parental leave as of their date of hire.

We assist employees who are trying to start a family with the costs of fertility treatments. For infertility treatments, we cover up to $15,000 on the core plan or $30,000 on the buy-up plan of treatment and egg-freezing storage. For parents choosing a surrogate, we will add the surrogate to our insurance from time of impregnation through 30 days after birth.

The agency has a number of dedicated lactation rooms for use by working mothers who wish to nurse their child and/or pump during work hours. Employees have access to use our medical grade double pumps located in the pump rooms, and employees who have chosen our insurance program through United Healthcare receive a personal, double-electric breast pump at no cost.

Additional benefits include: monthly lunch meetings for parents with family psychologist; $500 of expensable meals during first month after birth or adoption; $1,500 towards airfare costs for the child and a companion (spouse, partner, nanny, grandparent etc) during the first 18 months of a child’s life; parent activities and clothing swaps between Portland and New York and one fixed day off for four consecutive weeks at 100 percent pay upon return to New York office.

Droga5 New York provides 12 weeks of paid leave for primary caregivers and up to six weeks of paid leave for secondary caregivers. To support parents, Droga5 New York provides: cabs to and from work for expectant mothers in their last month of pregnancy; free breast milk delivery and supplies, including double electric breast pump, for nursing mothers; multiple lactation rooms; parental support groups; welcome gift basket; added paid family leave time, inclusive of  the birth, adoption or fostering of a child; additional fertility benefits up to $30,000.

Employees are eligible for the parental policy leave after 12 months of continuous service. 

We offer up to 16 weeks of paid maternity leave for birth mothers in the United States, as well as up to eight weeks of paid time off for other primary caregivers, including adoptive parents and parents using a surrogate.

Additionally we: offer primary caregivers – both women and men – the opportunity to work locally and limit travel for one year following their return from the birth or adoption of a child; provide the opportunity to ship breast milk when traveling on business and; provide hospital grade breast pumps for new parents in the U.S.

Twenty-two to 24 weeks for parent that gives birth: up to four weeks of Disability Leave before birth. Six to eight weeks after birth. Up to 12 weeks of Baby Bonding Leave

Twelve weeks for parent who doesn’t give birth.

Mother’s Rooms in office. Back up childcare — child care options when regular care falls through. Internal parent groups, parent gurus — peer mentoring from other parents.

Allen & Gerritsen
All new parents, whether through birth or adoption, moms and dads are encouraged to take up to six weeks off paid at 100 percent. Moms who give birth are eligible for an additional six weeks maternity leave paid at 100 percent in addition to the six weeks parental leave — totalling 12 weeks.

For every parental leave, employees are eligible to submit up to $500 of household expenses for reimbursement including cleaning services, laundry, takeout costs, etc.

We provide 12 weeks of leave at full pay for any new parent after one year of continuous, full-time employment, to be taken in the first six month after the new child joins the family, as well as six months of job protection. The company also pays out a new parent bonus. Zambezi is also a Pledge Parental Leave partner.

Work & Co
Primary caregivers have four and a half months (18 weeks) of 100 percent paid parental leave during the child’s first year. Secondary caregivers receive six weeks of 100 percent paid leave during the child’s first year. Both primary and secondary caregivers can optionally extend leave for up to six months.

An eligible parent is defined as a natural parent, same-sex spouse equivalent, or a new adoptive parent who has been an employee for six months or more. Parental leave can be taken anytime within the first year of the child’s birth, as one or two parts, following the birth or adoption of the new child. Prior to taking leave, parents create a custom returnship plan with the talent team.

Employees have the option to return to work for up to three months at a four day week for 80 percent of pay. To offer further support, we partner with Bright Horizons. Their Back-Up Care Advantage Program allows for up to 15 days each year of back-up childcare, as well as SitterCity for everyday care (babysitters and nannies), homework help, preferred enrollment and tuition discounts at daycare centers, and college savings coaching. The agency is a Pledge Parental Leave partner.

Berlin Cameron
Twelve weeks paid parental leave can be taken connected to the birth of an employee’s child or the placement of an adopted child within an employee’s home. To be eligible, employee must be employed by the company for at least six months and is classified as a full-time.

Venables Bell & Partners
Sixteen weeks for mothers and 10 weeks for fathers at 100 percent pay.

VB&P has a “soft landing” and slow build up in their work and commitments when they return to the office, which includes a re-orientation program and flexible schedules when back. New mothers can work from home every Friday plus three floater work from home days, as well as a 4pm hard stop every day and no travel for the first six weeks back. Fathers can also work from home every Friday for the first month, and have no work travel for the first month.

Additional state disability, agency short-term disability, and company vacation, sick and personal benefits can be tacked onto paid time offered by VB&P, so the leave period is often longer. Paid time off is not a sliding scale based on long-term tenure with the agency, as VB&P believes all employees deserve the equal amount of support during this important time in their lives.

Horizon Media
Horizon Media’s combined Parental Life Event Time (LET) policy plan and its existing company sponsored supplemental leave policy provides up to 11 weeks of pay.

In addition, Horizon Media launched its Spring! program in 2016 to facilitate a smooth transition back to work for new mothers and fathers. This provides education, support, and a suite of wellness benefits. New parents at Horizon have access to a seasoned working parent support coach; a three-month paid membership at Horizon’s onsite gym, Horizen; a spa day or “date night” dinner funded by the agency; access to transition-focused literature for both mothers and fathers; breast pump accessories; a membership to The La Leche League — a non-profit, organization dedicated to providing support to women who want to breastfeed; and a lactation transport system from Milk Stork for mothers traveling for business.

The agency also has dedicated rooms for new mothers returning to work.

Three months of full paid parental leave to all JOANS starting a family. This includes a continuation of benefits while out.
To read more: https://www.campaignlive.com/article/best-worst-us-agency-parental-leave-policies-revealed/1579433