As the issue of paid parental leave escalates in the 2016 election, Chobani gives its workers the benefit of raising their young children without having to worry about paying the bills.
The United States ranks dead last in providing many benefits which employees in Europe have enjoyed for years –among them is paid parental leave. Estonia is the most generous country, giving parents 87 weeks of paid parental leave, and even Finland offers 45 days of paid parental leave, while most U.S. corporations give zero days, as it is not mandated. Chobani won’t be the first U.S. company to offer paid parental leave to its employees, but it is certainly one of the first to offer paid leave not just to CEOs and top executives, but to all employees, no matter their position with the company.
Chobani’s parental leave policy will now rival that of Finland’s. The yogurt company’s founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Hamdi Ulukaya announced earlier this month that the company would be offering six weeks of 100% paid parental leave to all salaried and hourly employees starting in 2017. The policy extends to both mothers and fathers as well as employees who are adopting, fostering or planning a home-birth.
Why the big change in an outdated corporate policy?
“As a founder and a new father, my son opened my eyes to the fact that the vast majority of workers in this country don’t have access to paid family leave when they have a new child,” said Ulukaya. “That’s especially true when it comes to manufacturing and that needs to change in this country and Chobani needed to be part of that change.”
The United States is one of the only remaining industrialized nations which does not have a guaranteed parental leave policy for its workers. Hopefully this is changing, though. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, recently unanimously passed legislation mandating up to six weeks of fully paid parental leave for workers. Currently, California, New Jersey and Rhode Island are the only places in the U.S. with state-mandated paid leave plans in place.
Aside form providing parents with much needed sleep and respite during the time just after birth, studies have shown that paid parental leave contributes to the likelihood that a mother will breastfeed her child. This single act improves to a child’s immunity, helps them to feel loved, and even decreases cancer risk for the mother.
Though mostly women take advantage of parental leave, it benefits fathers, too. Many men feel that they are unable to bond with their infant children due to the demands of work. With both parents in 40% of American families working outside the household, it is logical to provide paid leave for the people who make the most important influence on young children’s early development.
A number of other countries – Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Czech Republic, Latvia, Norway and Slovakia – offer over a year’s worth of paid leave, as well. Chobani doesn’t come close to offering this level of paid time off for its employees, but 45 day is a great place to start, and will hopefully inspire more U.S. corporations to offer similar policies.
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