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A Record Number of Companies Are Increasing Paid Family Leave in 2018 More employers are offering ad

An engaging article from Working Mother illustrating the need for companies to "bump up" their benefits in order to retain and attract talent. How does your company measure up?

Proponents of paid leave, take heart: While we may not have a federal policy in place yet in the U.S., more and more private companies are picking up the slack and offering paid maternity leave to their employees.

In fact, more than one in three U.S. employers offers paid maternity leave beyond the amount required by law, up from one in six in 2011, according to new data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Bloomberg reports. And all 20 of the biggest companies in the U.S. offer at least some paid maternity leave.

It's not just that more companies are offering the benefit for the first time—many are also expanding the plans they already had in place, sweetening the pot so their star employees don't quit.

Since late 2017, an increasing number of private employers have expanded their paid maternity leave and paternity leave offerings, some doing so dramatically.

Why? It makes business sense in a war for talent. According to SHRM, more than 700 of the 1,012 organizations surveyed said that increased benefit offerings in the last year were meant specifically to retain talent.

And thus far, the federal government and all but six states aren’t providing new parents with the paid time off they need.

The United States remains one of only four countries in the world that doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, although there currently are discussions before Congress on this. On January 1, New Yorkjoined three other states—California, New Jersey and Rhode Island—in offering some form of paid family leave to most workers in the state and all kinds of new parents, from birth mothers to dads to families welcoming children through adoption, fostering and surrogacy. Since employees get paid through disability insurance, their checks come directly from the state, not from their employers. A few others, including Delaware and Indiana, have recently started offering paid parental leave to state employees only, but this doesn't apply to private-sector workers there.

Another potential motivator for the increase in private companies offering paid parental leave: new corporate tax breaks. Businesses that offer at least two weeks of paid leave at a minimum of 50% salary to employees earning less than $72,000 can start receiving credits under President Trump’s newly signed plan. That’s on top of an across-the-board corporate tax cut, from 35 percent to 21 percent. Employees seeking leave might become the benefactors of those earnings and savings.

Here’s an up-to-date list of which employers have stepped up their leave game in recent months:

  • Effective November 1, 2017, Cisco’s parental leave policy is gender-neutral and pays new parents for 13 weeks off, a big rise from the former four weeks just for new mothers. The change also includes unlimited PTO for appointments.

  • In September, DocuSign expanded paid parental leave to six months, effective February 1, 2018. The benefit is available to primary caregivers, whether through birth, surrogacy or adoption.

  • EcoLab announced an additional six weeks of 100 percent paid parental leave for all U.S. primary caregivers, effective January 1. The leave can be taken within the child’s first year of birth or adoption. Birth mom employees there will now have 12 paid weeks of leave.

  • IBM’s new policy, announced in October 2017, increases paid maternity leave to new birth mothers employed at the tech giant from a maximum of 14 weeks to 20 weeks. Fathers, partners and adoptive parents, meanwhile, receive 12 paid weeks off—double the previous benefit of six. Parents have up to a year to take the leave, with extra flexibility for scheduling the additional time off for employees whose children were born months ago. At the time of the announcement, Barbara Brickmeier, VP of Benefits, said, “It’s important for IBM to reinvent family-friendly programs to address the needs of today’s parents. It’s among the many reasons IBM attracts and retains top talent. We’ve been at this a very long time—we just made Working Mother magazine’s Best Companies list for the 32nd consecutive year—and we will continue to adapt programs for employees that are in step with the way families and work evolve.”

  • Investment bank Legg Mason in December said it will provide all U.S. employees 12 weeks’ pay for new parents, whether or not the person has a stay-at-home partner. The policy applies to birth and adoptive parents.

  • Lowe's announced on February 1 that it will offer 10 weeks' paid maternity leave and two weeks' paid parental leave, plus an adoption assistance benefit of up to $5,000. Previously, Lowe's offered no paid leave for new parents.

  • Lyft also recently changed its policy on parental leave to offer 18 weeks paid leave for full-time employees, regardless of gender. The policy also expands caregiver support leave from two weeks to 12 weeks. Previously, Lyft offered three months' paid leave to primary caregivers and four to six weeks' paid leave to secondary caregivers.

  • In November, Morgan Stanley announced it would allow primary caregivers to break the 16 weeks of paid parental leave into two-week sections after the first eight weeks. The company said it is offering paid leave of up to four weeks for non-primary caregivers after birth, adoption or foster placement. Previously, they had offered just one week to those parents.

  • In January 2018, New Seasons Market, a large chain of grocery stores on the West Coast, became one of the first in its industry in the U.S. to provide paid parental leave. They now offer four weeks of paid leave regardless of gender for birth, adoption, guardianship or foster placement of a child.

  • OpenTable increased parental leave from four to 10 weeks for employees in states that did not provide Paid Family Leave.

  • As of January 1, OppenheimerFunds has 16 weeks of paid leave for birth parents, up from 13 weeks, and eight weeks of paid leave for non-birth parents, up from five.

  • Rio Tinto, an international mining company, in September 2017 announced a new global minimum policy of 18 weeks’ paid parental leave at full pay for primary caregivers, regardless of gender, following the birth or adoption of a child. Secondary caregivers receive one week pay. Their U.S. employees were able to start taking advantage of this in October 2017.

  • In late January, Starbucks announced that effective October 1, the company will give six weeks' 100 percent paid leave for hourly workers (full- and part-time), regardless of gender. Previously, Starbucks offered 67 percent pay for birth mothers and adoptive parents but no paid leave for fathers. Salaried birth mothers receive 18 weeks' paid leave at 100 percent and salaried non-birth parents receive 12 weeks at full pay.

  • Effective January 1, TIAA changed their parental-leave policy to be gender-neutral. All full- and part-time employees now have access to 16 weeks of fully paid leave to be with their child after birth, adoption or after a child is placed with them for foster care. Before 2018, TIAA birth moms received 12 weeks of paid leave, while dads and adoptive parents received four weeks of paid leave.

  • Walmart announced in January that it will offer full-time U.S. employees 10 weeks’ paid maternity leave and six weeks’ paid parental leave. Previously, Wal-Mart gave salaried birth-mom employees six weeks’ partially paid leave while non-birthing employees got nothing.

  • Whirlpool announced that effective January 1, four weeks’ paid leave at 100 percent were added for new mothers, for a total of 12 weeks. New fathers now get four weeks at 100 percent pay, as do domestic partners and adoptive parents. *Article updated June 29, 2018

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