VF Corp. adds paid family leave benefit

Apparel company VF Corp. is rolling out a parental leave policy for its U.S. employees this spring.

Beginning May 1, maternal, paternal and adoptive parents working at the maker of Lee, North Face, Vans, Wrangler and other brands will have access to eight straight weeks of paid leave. Employees at the company’s retail locations and corporate office are eligible, so long as they work over 30 hours a week and have been with the company for over a year. VF has about 30,000 U.S. employees, a company spokesperson says.

“We regularly review our benefits and listen to our employees’ input to ensure we are providing highly competitive and comprehensive offerings that support our employees and their families,” says Anita Graham, VF’s chief human resources officer. “Our new paid parental leave program will give new parents the time they need away from work so they can focus on their family after the birth or adoption of a child.”

Prior to the announcement, VF employees were only protected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a new child.

North Face
Visitors check out the North Face booth at the Outdoor Retailers Winter Market Show at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016. Consumer confidence in the U.S. climbed to a 12-week high, boosted by improving household attitudes about the state of the economy. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

Company executives say VF decided to update its parental leave policy to keep up with the competitive job market. Research on the benefits of paid parental leave — including a study from Boston Consulting Group that found that 84% of women with paid maternity leave return to work — was also a factor.

“Our new paid parental leave policy is designed both to reinforce our purpose and our values, while helping us continue to attract, engage and retain a quality workforce,” Graham says, adding that paid leave is a “highly-attractive differentiator.”

VF also says it is introducing a birth mother’s disability benefit, designed to help hourly female employees pay their bills while they’re out on short-term disability to recover after having a baby. Company executives say these employees also can qualify for parental leave, which means a birth mother has access to 14 weeks of paid leave.

Adoptive parents will have access to the new parental leave, in addition to reimbursements for eligible adoption-related fees and expenses. This benefit will be available to employees the same day as paid parental leave.

“We want to ensure we’re supporting all our employees and their families by offering competitive and differentiated benefits,” Graham says.

As employees’ children grow up, VF’s employee assistance program provides resources to help parents raise “emotionally healthy kids,” Graham says. The resources address everything from bullying, dealing with the loss of a loved one or pet, peer pressure or life transitions and changes. New parents also have access to telemedicine services and nutritional counselors as part of VF’s benefits package.

The company joins a number of other employers — including Reynolds American, Eataly, XPO Logistics and Unum — that have recently added a parental leave program. 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 latest statistics from the Society for Human Resource Management.

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