One of the hot-button issues in this year's presidential election is paid parental leave—and no wonder, since the United States is the only industrialized nation on Earth without paid maternity leave laws. Left up to individual employers, policies vary from corporation to corporation, and sometimes don't exist at all, which means new parents suffer loss of wages during hospital stays and while caring for newborns.
The Family and Medical Leave Act mandates that companies with 50-or-more employees allow workers up to 12 weeks off after having a baby, but these three months may be unpaid—in fact, only 12 percent of private sector workers in the United States have access to paid family leave—and most people can't afford to go 12 weeks without a paycheck.
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Sometimes, paid parental leave doesn't materialize at a company until the reality of what's at stake affects executives at the very top. Take yogurt company Chobani, for instance, who, kudos to them, have just implemented a six week paid parental leave policy.
"As a founder and a father, the birth of my son opened my eyes to the fact that the vast majority of America's workers, especially those in manufacturing, don't have access to paid family leave when they have a new child. And for fathers, that gap is even wider," Chobani's CEO Hamdi Ulukaya wrote in a LinkedIn blog post yesterday morning. "I asked my team to look at what we could do to better support new parents after the birth, adoption, or placement of a foster child in their home. Starting next year, Chobani will begin offering six full weeks of paid parental leave for full-time employees who are new mothers and fathers—hourly and salaried alike."
The announcement from Chobani follows last week's announcement that Union Square Hospitality is the first major New York restaurant group to offer paid parental leave for its employees.
"Frankly, it's nuts that more companies haven't figured out what a win-win paid family leave is," Toms Shoes founder Blake Mycoskie said in 2015. "Dads especially, who are still the primary breadwinners in 60 percent of households, miss out on an incredible opportunity to bond with their kids. That's a loss for families and also for companies. I have a hugely talented friend who could afford to take only one week off when his son was born; he was so upset that he left for a new job. What a loss to that company! So my pitch to bosses everywhere is this: Support family leave."