Eataly cooks up paid parental leave benefit

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Italian marketplace and food hall chain Eataly announced this week that it is offering eight weeks of paid parental leave to mothers and fathers following the birth or adoption of a child.

“The importance of a bonding period between parent and new child is immeasurable,” says Nicola Farinetti, chief executive of Eataly USA says in a statement. “As a family business we understand this importance in a unique way and wanted to ensure that all employees, regardless of role or hours worked, can spend time with their newly arrived child.”

Eataly’s policy went into effect in January, and all employees who have been working at the company for at least a year are eligible, regardless of hours worked per week.

Employees will be paid for 100% of their gross weekly wages for their first four weeks of leave and the second four weeks will be paid at 60% of their gross weekly wages. A spokesperson for the company declined to say exactly how many Eataly employees would be eligible for the benefit. The Italian company has approximately 2,700 employees across four U.S. cities.

The new parental leave benefits are big move for Eataly because many of its employees are retail workers, a group that generally does not have access to paid parental leave. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only 7% of retail workers had access to paid family leave in 2017.

But a growing number of retailers are offering and expanding those benefits in a tight labor market.

In January, Walmart expanded its paid maternity leave policy to give full-time hourly employees 10 weeks and expanded its parental leave to six weeks.

Grocery chain New Seasons Market also began offering all benefits-eligible staff members four weeks of fully paid parental leave following the birth, adoption, long-term guardianship or foster placement of a child.

Dollar General introduced a new paid parental leave benefit in March, offering two weeks of paid time off for all eligible full-time and part-time employees, and eight weeks of paid time off for birth mothers.

In general, paid parental leave is becoming a more popular benefit at many companies as they work to attract millennial workers. The number of employers offering paid maternity leave increased from 26% in 2016 to 35% in 2018 and paid paternity leave increased from 21% to 29% over the same period, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual benefits survey.

In addition to the new paid parental leave benefit, Eataly says it offers eligible employees health insurance, 401(k) savings plans, wellness programming, staff classes and continuing education, commuter benefits and daily meals.

“We are committed to providing a positive work environment that allows employees to have a sense of balance as they grow in their careers with Eataly,” Farinetti says.

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