Adoption benefits are starting to catch on in Canada. While only seven per cent of employers offer adoption benefits, that number is expected to double over the next three years, according to HR consulting firm Hewitt Associates.
The shift started about seven years ago when a couple dozen companies began offering top-up payments for adoptive parents' parental leaves of up to 17 weeks. Some companies topped up the payment to 80 per cent of the employee's regular salary. Now, a few companies offer leave at full pay.
While Canadian firms have made great strides, they still lag behind their American counterparts. In the United States, the percentage of American firms with adoption benefits soared from 12 per cent in 1990 to 45 per cent in 2006, according to an survey of 1,000 employers by Hewitt.
Some innovative companies in Canada are offering additional adoption support.
Adoption, especially from foreign countries, is an expensive and time consuming process. With agency fees, orphanage donations and plane tickets to the child's home country, the cost can run up to $30,000.
To help employees cover these expenses IBM gives up to $1,500 per child, Ernst and Young pays $5,000, PricewaterhouseCoopers and MBNA offer $10,000 and KPMG, among the most generous, provides up to $20,000.
So far 30 Canadian employees have made use of KPMG's adoption leave.