Organizational Culture

Parental Leave Programs Across the U.S. Are Getting a Makeover

Parental leave programs

Starbucks, American Airlines, and Others Announced Improved Policies in January.

In 2016, many companies — including IKEA, American Express, and Exelon — announced drastically improved parental leave policies for U.S. employees. One month into 2017, it seems that trend is continuing. Since the start of the new year, several employers, among them Starbucks, American Airlines, and Duke Energy, have also announced enhanced policies.

Unlike nearly every other developed nation in the world, the U.S. does not guarantee paid parental leave — so it’s up to individual employers to decide on their own programs. Yet while research shows a direct correlation between women’s overall job satisfaction/employee retention rates and the amount of maternity leave taken, only 13% of U.S. employees get any kind of paid leave when they take time off from work to care for a new child.

That’s why it’s particularly uplifting to hear that improved parental leave policies in the U.S. have been making headlines a lot lately.

Also read: Why Paid Maternity Leave is Essential to Company Culture

Fairygodboss, an online career community for women, has been keeping track, maintaining a list of the employers that have recently enhanced their paid leave programs to make them more generous and comprehensive.

Starbucks, whose new plan goes into effect October 1, 2017, will offer its baristas who give birth “six weeks of paid leave at 100% of their annual pay, an increase from the prior benefit of 67% of average pay over that time period,” according to Fortune. To qualify, they must work at least 20 hours per week. Fortune adds that “any benefits-eligible baristas who welcome a new child (a new father, a foster parent or by adoption), are eligible to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

“Starbucks also boosted the benefits it offers for non-store partners (district managers, field partners, employees at the headquarters), which under the new policy gives those new moms who give birth eligibility to receive a full 18 weeks of paid parental leave,” according to Fortune. “Non-birth parents will also get 12 weeks of paid leave.”

Also read: The Number of Women Taking Maternity Leave Hasn’t Gone Up Since 1994

Days after Starbucks announced its new policy, CBS reported that beginning March 1, American Airlines will offer its employees 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. This news is particularly significant because the company doesn’t currently offer paid time off to new mothers.

Sources tell us that fellow airline Delta will also be implementing a new policy; it will provide birth mothers with 6 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Duke Energy, a North Carolina-based electric power holding company, has also announced that it will now — for the first time — provide its employees with fully paid parental leave. Effective since January 1, both mothers and fathers who work at Duke Energy can take six weeks of paid leave anytime within the first 16 weeks after the birth, adoption or foster care placement of a child. Birth mothers may take a total of 12 paid weeks if they take advantage of both the company’s existing, pregnancy-related short-term disability benefit and its new maternity leave benefit.

According to their press release, Duke Energy hopes its new policy will “bolster work-family balance and help attract and retain highly skilled workers.”

Check out Fairygodboss’ data on companies that have recently expanded their parental leave benefits — and please contact their team at if you think there’s a company they’ve missed!

About the Author

Samantha Samel is the Editorial Director at Fairygodboss, a company that is devoted to improving the workplace for women by increasing transparency. The site offers a platform for women to anonymously review their work experiences and also offers job listings, discussion boards, company ratings and career advice. Previously, Samantha worked as the Managing Editor at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a Brooklyn-based newspaper.