The Seattle-based coffee giant, Starbucks, announced last month that it’s parental leave policy — which gives all birth mothers, regardless of their position at Starbucks, six weeks of paid leave at 67 percent of average pay — will get even better for its over 160,000 employees nationwide.

Starting on October 1, 2017, employees who work an average of twenty or more hours a week are eligible for the following benefits:

  • Birth mothers who work within the stores will now receive six weeks of 100 percent paid leave for recovery in addition to twelve weeks of unpaid parental leave, totaling eighteen weeks of permitted leave.
  • Birth mothers who are district managers and other employees who work outside the stores will now have the ability to take up to eighteen weeks of paid leave.
  • All non-birth parents, including fathers, same-sex couples, and adoptive parents, will now have the ability to take twelve weeks of unpaid leave.

Access to great parental leave benefits is a great way to attract and retain employees in an industry that sees high turnover, which is something Ikea noticed when they increased their benefits package. Since January 1, 2017, all Ikea employees received up to four months of paid parental leave, regardless of if the employees are paid hourly or by salary, working in the stores or in the corporate offices, are male or female, regardless of sexual orientation, and even if they have given birth, adopted, or fostered a child.

Lately, the availability of increased benefits has been a hot-button issue of social importance. And, companies who make the move to increase parental leave packages receive a lot of praise from the public and industry leaders. Other companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Pinterest have increased their benefits packages to include an unlimited one-year parental leave policy, six months of paid leave, and three months paid leave plus an additional month of part-time hours, respectively.

These companies receive great praise, because overall, paid parental leave in the United States lags behind parental leave policies elsewhere in the world — and America is one of two industrialized countries with no paid maternity leave at all. The other industrialized country is Papua New Guinea, which is an island just north of Australia.

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, U.S. employers with fifty or more workers must allow parents twelve weeks of job-protected leave yearly to care for a newborn child. Although jobs are guaranteed when the parent goes back to work, parental leave isn’t paid and often leaves new parents strapped for income when they need it the most.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this law, as California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island offer paid family leave through employee-paid payroll taxes. And, some employers choose to provide paid parental leave, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this only affects about thirteen percent of workers.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand once said, “Many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth.” And, she’s right. With companies like Starbucks, Netflix, and Ikea and states like California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island paving the way for paid parental leave, maybe one day our country as a whole will provide paid parental leave for everyone.

Stephen Koppekin Consulting provides cost-effective and efficient consulting solutions in the areas of labor and employment.  With his expert ability to negotiate and his solution-based mindset, Stephen Koppekin shares his vast knowledge on his consulting website.