Eataly, the food court and marketplace known for its assortment of Italian delicacies, just made life a whole lot easier for its workers.
All of its nearly 3,000 employees in the United States now have access to paid parental leave, as long as they have worked at the company for a year. For the first four weeks, they will be eligible for 100% of their gross weekly wages, and the second four weeks, they will be paid 60% of their gross weekly wages. This is a big deal, particularly because the vast majority of Eataly’s employees are retail workers, who generally don’t have access to much support when they become new parents.
America is the only developed country that has no federal laws about parental leave. The Family and Medical Leave Act, signed by President Bill Clinton 25 years ago, protects your job for 12 weeks after childbirth or adoption. But importantly, it does not require that you be paid during that time off. And it only applies to you if you’ve been working at your job for one year, and your employer has more than 50 employees within 75 miles of where you work. Many retail workers cannot afford to take the time off, and it can be particularly hard for new moms, who need the time to recover physically from childbirth.
To most of the world, this is ridiculous. Take it from Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly USA, who is from Italy, where the state guarantees six months’ leave for all parents at 80% of their wage. “In Italy, we have this cultural belief that it is important for parents to be able to bond with their new child,” he says.
He says that these new rules are just a start. The company is gathering feedback about how employees use the benefit, with the hopes of extending benefits down the road. “We’re gathering information about what employees really want: Are they more interested in more time off, or more financial resources?” he says. “Ultimately, our goal is to make life even easier for new parents.”