Ikea is doing something incredible for working parents, and other companies should take note
A hot topic during this election cycle was guaranteed paid family leave — an initiative that Hillary Clinton vowed to fight for as president. Unfortunately, Donald Trump doesn’t share her views, and there’s little hope that any national progress will be made under his administration. But, Ikea is doing something incredible for working parents — and other companies would be wise to follow their lead.
Beginning January 1, 2017, all Ikea workers in America will be eligible to take three months of paid parental leave if they've been with the company for at least one year. Even more importantly, this new initiative doesn't apply solely to corporate employees. Every worker, including store-level sales associates and truck drivers, will be given the paid leave they deserve.
Lars Petersson, the president of Ikea U.S., tells The Huffington Post that it's a matter of principle. “The home is our arena, he says. “We think that it’s really important that people working for us get a chance to experience their home, especially when you’re welcoming a new family member.
Under the new plan, workers will receive their full pay for the first six weeks and 50 percent for the second six weeks. Employees who have been with the company for three or more years get four months of paid leave — they’ll collect full pay for the first eight weeks and half pay for the second eight weeks.
But wait, it gets better — the plan is gender neutral and completely inclusive. Paternity leave matches maternity leave, and workers who adopt children are guaranteed the same benefits as biological parents.
At this time, America lags behind other developed nations in a major way. Under the Family Medical Leave Act, employees are only entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave — which means that taking time off is not an option for workers who don’t bring home a considerably high salary.
With no federal mandate in sight, it's up to individual companies to step up and offer paid leave. According to a 2014 report from the Bureau of Labor, only 13 percent of American workers had guaranteed paid time off after the birth of a child. Companies ought to take note of Ikea's example and offer a similar plan to their employees at all levels, from corporate to the sales floor.
Trump won’t help working parents, but companies can take matters into their own hands and provide employees with the same rights that are given to workers in other developed nations.