Swedish company IKEA is known for its innovative furniture, but it’s adding a paid parental leave policy to that innovation. The furniture and housewares chain announced that it is offering up to four months of paid parental leave for its U.S. workers, no matter the parent and situation.
A rare move in the retail space, experts are lauding the move as many companies across industries seem to wrestle with the issue. Other industries have already received pressure and changed their policies. Yahoo and Facebook employees receive 16 weeks, Citi and Merrill Lynch workers get 13 weeks, Bain & Co. and Bank of America allow for 12 weeks and Ernst & Young grants a whopping nearly 10 months (39 weeks).
But in the retail sector, it just hasn’t been given as much consideration. And at chains, these type of benefits typically go to the executives and managers.
IKEA’s new parental leave policy is available to U.S. workers, no matter their gender, no matter how they became parents — birth, adoption, foster — and irregardless of if they’re salaried or hourly employees.
For comparison, Walmart offers 90 days of paid maternity leave and just two weeks for paternity or adoption. But this is only for salaried employees.
In terms of what’s legally mandatory, the Family and Medical Leave Act holds that 12 weeks of maternity leave are allowed, but that’s unpaid and only for full-time workers that have more than 50 employees. And as for how many American workers are allowed to even take a paid option, that’s about 12 percent but plummets to 5 percent when looking at low-wage workers.
The terrible and known irony is that, while a retail employee may be eligible for unpaid FMLA leave, they aren’t able to afford it.
So, as IKEA’s new policy rolls out, specific details are dependent on how many years the employee has served. The policy includes allowing workers that have been with the company for more than a year to take up to three months paid leave and receive their entire base wage for the first six weeks. After that, they’ll receive another six weeks at half rate. Employees with at least three years can take four months total and receive 100 percent of the base wage for the first eight weeks and half the wage for the second eight weeks. If more time is needed, the policy includes additional Short-Term Disability for six to eight weeks — no matter how long the employee has been with IKEA.
While this may be an unprecedented and lauded policy addition, the company’s headquarters are, of course, in Sweden, where the country mandates that all employees receive 480 paid days off, no matter if it was a birth or an adoption.