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Good news: more people are getting paid leave. Bad news: not enough

Good news: more people are getting paid leave. Bad news: not enough
[Photo: Dakota Corbin/Unsplash]

Even as the U.S. is far behind the rest of the world when it comes to federally mandated paid parental leave, a new report by PL+US: Paid Leave for the United States finds that more top employers are offering the benefit to their workers, even those in low wage jobs.

Walmart was one that started offering up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave which affected more than 500,000 workers. Starbucks, CVS Health, Gap Inc., Esteé Lauder, TJX, Chipotle, and others are also offering expanded benefits making the median 12 weeks.  The top 18 companies (of the 50 employers analyzed by the researchers) collectively employ over 4.3 million people. Among them are the 2 million–particularly low-income employees–who now have access to paid family leave in the past year alone. PL+US finds that this corporate trend is driven by investor, consumer, and employee pressure.

Other important findings include:

Nearly half (22 of the 50 policies tracked in this report) still don’t offer benefits to fathers, adoptive parents, and other non-birthing parents. Those who do are getting a nominal amount at the likes of Dollar General (2 weeks), Lowes (2 weeks), and TJX (4 weeks).

Many part-time employees are still excluded, and contractors aren’t offered paid parental leave at any of the companies surveyed–even though they make up a large and growing portion of the workforce at places like Amazon and FedEx.

Companies mostly aren’t extended paid time off to care for family members even though only 21% of family leave is taken for new babies. Each year, more than 40 million people or 18% of the U.S. workforce spends an average of 24 hours a week providing unpaid care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member.

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