Smucker adds parental, pet bereavement leave

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J.M. Smucker is sweetening its total rewards program for more than 7,000 employees. Starting next year the Ohio-based manufacturer, which is most well-known for its jams and peanut butter, is adding new benefits including 12 weeks of paid parental leave, more vacation time and bereavement leave following the loss of a pet.

New parents will be able to take paid parental leave following the birth, adoption or foster placement of a child. For new mothers, the leave will go into effect following 12 weeks of fully paid short-term disability, says Jill Penrose, senior vice president of human resources and corporate communications at Smucker. The company also boosted its vacation benefit from two to three weeks.

“Welcoming a new member to the family is exciting and life-changing for all involved,” Penrose says. “It’s essential to take time to bond and adjust following a birth, adoption or foster placement, and we are committed to supporting our employees at this important and exciting time.”

See also: Hewlett Packard Enterprise adds 6 months of paid parental leave

In general, employers are moving to expand their family-friendly benefits such as paid parental leave, maternity and paternity leave. Companies including Hannaford Supermarkets, Target and Hewlett Packard Enterprise all boosted leave this year. Around 27% of employers offer paid parental leave benefits, according to data from the Society for Human Resource Management.

But Smucker is also investing in a benefit for furry family members. The company, which also manufacturers pet food, recognizes that dogs and cats are important family members and decided to give workers one day of time off following the death of a pet, Penrose adds.

“We understand employees who experience a loss of a beloved pet need time to process the emotions experienced,” she says.

See also: Pet debt pitfalls, how employers can help ease the burden

Smucker is not alone. Companies are moving to add pet-friendly benefits such as pet insurance, which can help ease the burden of expensive veterinary care. A study from Nationwide and the Human Animal Bound Research Institute, found that 72% of employees would decline a job offer with another company at similar pay to work in a pet-friendly environment.

“It is paramount that employers consider adding pet friendly perks such as allowing pets in the workplace or offering pet health insurance as a voluntary employee benefit,” Anthony Sharett, president of Nationwide Pet Insurance, told Employee Benefit News in June.

These new additions are all part of the Smucker total rewards program, which is designed to improve workers’ physical, financial and emotional well-being. Penrose says these new additions complement the company’s existing offerings including flexible scheduling and remote work options for employees.

"In addition to being the right thing to do for our people, we also believe these updates will be beneficial for our business as they will allow employees to better focus on their professional responsibilities and continued development when they return to work,” she says.

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