Ikea significantly ramps up paid parental leave benefits

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Ikea is significantly expanding its paid parental leave benefits.

The furniture retailer announced Tuesday it will provide up to four months paid parental leave for all U.S. employees — salaried and hourly workers, mothers and fathers, and adoptive and foster parents.

Starting Jan. 1, workers who have been with the company for a year will get six weeks of leave at full pay, followed by six weeks at half pay. Workers who have been with the company for three years will be eligible for eight weeks at full pay, followed by eight weeks at half pay.

Employees are still able to take six to eight weeks of short-term disability regardless of tenure, the company said.

The expanded policy was introduced to ensure employees have the opportunity to bond with their children and connect as a new family, says Lars Petersson, Ikea’s U.S president.

“We believe time with family and friends is so important for a healthy work-life balance and a happy and productive workforce,” he says. “This benefit, which applies to all parents, will give our workers the opportunity to spend more time with their families when welcoming a child. Our workers are our most important resource, which is why we continue to invest in helping them reach their dream.”

The company’s updated policy is a significant revamp. Until now, U.S. Ikea workers were given one week of paid leave on top of their short-term disability.

Additionally, Ikea announced it is introducing a sabbatical program for employees to take time to “refresh and engage in personal and professional growth and development.”

Employees who have been with Ikea for seven years can take off three months of unpaid time for any reason they wish, with their position guaranteed when they return. For employees who have been with the company even longer, the benefits are even better: Employees with 11 years at the company can take a sabbatical up to six months, and for those with 15 years at Ikea, a sabbatical can last a full year.

Read also: Sabbaticals said to reduce burnout, improve worker loyalty

Though U.S. employers traditionally haven’t been very generous with paid leave — a Pew Research Center report ranks the United States last out of 38 countries in government-supported time off for new parents — an increasing number of big-name firms have expanded the benefit. Bank of America and Ernst and Young both increased paid parental leave benefits for its employees this year.

Read also: Why more employers are offering paid parental leave

“Offering generous paid parental leave has become table stakes among Silicon Valley companies,” Rich Fuerstenberg, a Mercer partner, told EBN in September. “But you’ll also find similar programs in other industries like professional service, accounting firms, consulting firms and investment banks.”

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