While there are numerous companies in the United States that provide paid maternity or paternity leave to salaried executive level employees, paid leave for hourly employees has been rare. The Swedish-based company IKEA has boldly moved to provide up to four months of paid maternity/paternity leave to both its salaried and hourly employees. The leave will be provided to new adoptive parents, foster parents and birth parents.
Before you think about filling-out a job application to work in the furniture warehouse, know that IKEA is basing the amount of leave provided to employees on their tenure with the company. “Co-workers who have been with IKEA for more than one year can take up to three months of paid leave to be with their family, receiving 100% of their base wage for the first six weeks of parental leave and 50% for an additional six weeks…Co-workers with three or more years’ tenure can take up to four months of paid leave, receiving 100% of their base wage for the first eight weeks and 50% for an additional eight weeks. This is in addition to the six to eight weeks of Short Term Disability available to all co-workers regardless of tenure” the company said in a statement.
While such leave far exceeds the requirements of the federal Family Medical Leave Act, which requires that employers with 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to employees who meet certain eligibility requirements, IKEA’s new U.S. paid leave policy still is dwarfed by its own Swedish policy. In Sweden, IKEA employees can expect over a year of paid parental leave – just like every other worker in Sweden.
In addition to its new parental leave policy, which is effective January 1, 2017, IKEA will be offering its employees unpaid “sabbatical” leaves, the length of which once again will be determined based on the employee’s tenure with the company.
Note that less than a handful of states in the U.S. require some form of paid parental leave – California, New Jersey and Rhode Island – with New York set to begin requiring such leave in 2018. In addition, San Francisco recently became the first major city to mandate paid family leave.
Time will tell if IKEA’s paid parental leave policies serve as an example, or a lesson learned, to other employers who are considering implementing a similar leave policy.
The St. Louis employment attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters, including those relating to benefit and leave policies, for over sixty years, and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.