Ikea’s New Parental Leave Policy Is A Nod To Its “Swedish Roots”

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Ikea’s U.S. employees, both hourly and salaried, will be entitled to up to four months paid parental leave starting January 1, Fortune reports. Employees with up to a year of tenure will get three months off, with the first six weeks at full pay and the second six weeks at half pay. Those who have been with the company for at least three years will receive eight fully paid weeks and eight weeks at half pay, for a total of four months. The policy applies not only to birth mothers but also fathers as well as adoptive and foster parents. Currently, there is no national protection for paid parental leave. The only federal policy currently is the Family and Medical Leave Act, which guarantees only 12 weeks of unpaid leave to certain employees — only around 40% of women. Paid maternity leave also disproportionally favors higher earners, as Fortune points out. Only 5% of the lowest wage earners receive any kind of paid family leave, a group that contains hourly and part-time workers who are often not extended the same family leave benefits as salaried employees even at the same company. Ikea’s decision to extend the same policy to all employees is heartening, but also a reminder of how far we have still to go. In a press release, Ikea cited its “Swedish roots” in informing the new policy. In Sweden, new parents receive 68 weeks of leave with the aid of government subsidies. The United States, on the other hand, is one of only two countries in the world that don’t offer some form of paid federal maternity leave.

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