MOORHEAD — As David and Britta Teeples prepared to welcome their first child in April, they were excited and a little nervous.
The high school sweethearts, married for four years, knew it would be life-changing.
He was hoping for time away from his job as the marketing supervisor for dining services at Concordia College to be home with his wife and son.
During the pregnancy, he saved up about two weeks worth of vacation.
However, in May, came a pleasant surprise.
David Teeples, 27, learned he was eligible for six weeks of paid parental leave, under a new benefit for Concordia employees.
He was happy for the opportunity to support his wife and bond with son Jack.
“Especially now that I’m back at work, coming home and seeing him kind of recognize me and smile, has been really fun,” he said.
Britta Teeples, 26, a high school history teacher in Barnesville, Minn., where the couple lives, was also pleased.
“I think it’s a very progressive step for Concordia and I think they’re definitely leading the way, at least in this area, as far as valuing their employees,” she said.
The new policy gives employees six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child, and it applies to birthing and non-birthing parents.
Peggy Torrance, director of human resources at Concordia, said the change was in the works for a couple of years.
It’s aimed at supporting all employees and is meant to be a community influencer.
“We wanted to have it be equal, recognizing that families are different,” Torrance said, adding, “They might have two dads or two moms.”
She said it also acknowledges that “Dad is just as important in raising kids as Mom.”
Female employees who give birth can draw on Concordia’s extended illness or short-term disability leave, which is 12 weeks.
More businesses and organizations across the country are starting to offer paid parental leave, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
A survey of 3,500 HR professionals nationwide sampled employers providing the benefit.
In 2018, 35% of them offered paid maternity leave, up from 26% in 2016.
Paid paternity leave increased from 21% to 29% over that time period, and paid adoption leave jumped from 20% to 28%.
David Teeples said he was apprehensive at first about taking six weeks off from work, but fellow staff members were helpful and accommodating.
“I’m glad that people here, and hopefully other places too, will have that opportunity,” he said.