Ikea significantly expanding paid parental leave

Because FMLA doesn't require pay during leave, most new parents must depend on the goodwill of their employers to get paid while taking time off, but only 12% of employees are covered by such corporate parental leave policies, and those that do are often higher-paid, salaried workers.

Ikea's revamped family leave policy will go into effect on January 1, 2017.

Only 12 percent of USA private-sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, according to the latest United States Department of Labor statistics.

The Sweden-based furniture company IKEA announced Monday that its 13,000 salaried and hourly workers in the U.S. will see their parental leave benefits generously expanded, in some cases doubling to four months. Workers can collect full pay for their first six weeks and then half of their pay for the second six weeks.

Workers with three or more years at Ikea will be eligible to take up to four months of paid leave, receiving all of their base wage for the first eight weeks and 50% for an additional eight weeks. Ikea will now let employees who have seven years with the company take off for up to three months (unpaid), whenever they want, with their position guaranteed when they return. All of that comes on top of whatever short term disability they are eligible for. The short-term disability remains in place in addition to the new leave benefits and is available to any employee regardless of tenure, the company said.

In the United States, unlike in the rest of the developed world, new mothers and fathers are not guaranteed any paid time off. "The home is our arena", he says. Private sector companies know that they have to meet the demand or they will have problems hiring and keeping workers.

Paid leave, especially on a federal level, might not sit well with President-elect Donald Trump's new administration. IKEA has other locations in IL and Ohio. According to the Bureau of Labor, only around 13 percent of American workers get paid leave.

"We see it as an investment in our co-workers, which we view as our most important resource " says Lars Petersson, president of Ikea's USA operations.

Ikea's benefit adds an unusual wrinkle to many standard parental leave plans, with the benefit growing in length after employees stick around longer.

Ikea is also introducing a sabbatical program for workers without children, allowing them to take time off for "personal and professional growth and development".

  • Jon Douglas