How Two Working Parents Make It Work

Ryan and Heather Fischer & familySponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb

For Ryan and Heather Fischer, 2018 was an eventful year. Both employees at Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Fischers welcomed a second daughter, Colette, into their lives on January 24 – just three weeks after the company’s new and expanded paid family care leave policy went into effect.

“When the company announced the new program, I was ecstatic,” says Ryan, an IT business partner at the company.

Heather, a clinical trial forecasting analyst, had the same response. “It was just so nice to have all that time with our new daughter, to be 100 percent focused on her development and her needs,” she says.

Time Off When It’s Needed Most

Ryan used two weeks of his paid time off to be with Heather and their two-year-old, Adelaide, right after the baby was born. Then, when Heather returned to work in April after using six weeks of paid short-term disability as well as her parental leave benefits, Ryan spent several more weeks at home with his daughter. He describes that period as a “huge bonding experience.”

Being able to take time in shorter intervals is a hallmark of the program that offers eight weeks of paid time off for critical life events. Available to all eligible U.S. employees including hourly workers, it applies equally to mothers and fathers, whether they are birth parents or parents of adopted or foster children.

Focus on Flexibility

The program also covers employees who need time to care for seriously ill family members. Just like new parents, caregivers can take the time all at once or break up the time into smaller increments to meet a family member’s needs.

“We realize that our employees can work best when they feel their responsibilities at home and at work are being supported,” says Ann Powell Judge, chief human resources officer at Bristol-Myers Squibb. “The benefits we’ve added provide additional flexibility when their families need them the most.”

Support Beyond Family Leave

Parents of two young children, Ryan and Heather can really coordinate and work together to balance their roles as mom and dad. Still, it isn’t always easy, but the Fischers feel well equipped to manage both aspects of their lives.

“My group has been super flexible and eased me back into being in the office,” says Heather. “Everyone I work with has been understanding. They’re always checking in—even now, when our daughter is 10 months old— to make sure I’m OK with my workload.”

Ryan added that the couple also takes advantage of the company’s onsite daycare, which gives children a safe and nurturing learning environment, while offering convenience for parents.

Overall, the events of 2018 were, as Ryan puts it, “exhausting, but worth it” for the Fischers. They look forward to what’s ahead for their family of four in the new year.


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