LIVING

Here’s one more reason to love IKEA

Obviously we all love the affordable goods IKEA offers. But this time the Scandinavian company is at the top of our list for the new benefits they now offer their employees. Unlike most mega brands, Ikea does not only offer maternal leave, but they’ve rather extended their inclusion criteria to dads as well, making their parental leave policy one of the best out there. The company has announced that it offers up to four months of paid leave for new parents who may work either full or part- time, regardless of whether they’ve  given birth, adopted or fostered.

Employees of over a year are entitled up to three months of parental leave, half of which is at full pay and the other half at 50% pay. Employees of three years or more are entitled to four months out of which half is at full pay and half for 50% pay. Moms, following childbirth are also eligible for a short-term disability leave of 8-weeks.

The head of Ikea’s U.S Operations, Lars Petersson, told the WSJ, that the changes were made in an effort to “improve productivity and reduce turnover”. Unfortunately these efforts are not shared with many other retail companies.

The U.S is the only remaining developed country in the world without guaranteed parental leave of any sort. Under the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993, which was passed during the Clinton Administration,  12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave is available, but only to full-time working mothers who work in companies with over 50 employees. The statistics are disturbing, because as it turns out, a mere 12% of U.S employees are covered by such parental leave policies, and the numbers go down to 5% when we consider low-wage workers.

When we compare these U.S IKEA benefits to it’s competitors the inclusive policy seems remarkable for American standards and overly generous. However when we look at the company’s policy in Sweden, we understand how short it falls on a larger scale. Swedish workers are entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave, putting the U.S miles behind the Scandinavian progressive policies.

So, although the changes are most definitely a  promising start, and we love IKEA for taking initiative, we still have a long way to go.  For now..until policies are changed, we can only hope that others will look up to them and follow..

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