American Express has joined the parental leave arms race, announcing a new policy that gives 20 weeks of leave at full pay to employees, male or female, who become parents through birth, adoption, or surrogacy, Fortune’s Claire Zillman reports, and that’s not all:
It’s also offering employees benefits worth up to $35,000 for adoption and surrogacy events as well as $35,000 for infertility treatment—including advanced reproductive technology procedures—through its health plan. Under the company’s old plan, primary caregivers could take six weeks of paid leave and secondary caregivers received two weeks off. Its surrogacy and adoption benefits previously stood at $10,000 and reproductive services and infertility treatments were capped at $20,000.
U.S.-based regular full-time and part-time employees are eligible for the new benefits after working for AmEx for one year. The policy kicks in January 1. Conversations with employees as well as market forces prompted the change in policy, says Kevin Cox, chief human resources officer for AmEx. He says employees suggested that AmEx could support their parenting efforts “in a more complete way.”
Amex will also offer “a personal concierge for employees who are adding to their families, 24-hour access to lactation consultants, and free breast-milk shipping during business trips.” The change comes as many major employers are rolling out more robust parental leave offerings in an effort to retain working parents, particularly mothers, amid a growing understanding of how important family-friendly policies are to keeping women in the workforce after they have children. Policies that do not discriminate between mothers and fathers or between birth and adoptive parents are becoming increasingly popular as well.
The company’s generous new adoption, surrogacy, and fertility benefits are more unusual, but are also becoming more common: A recent study found that about one quarter of large employers (over 500 employees) offered fertility services as part of their health care benefits. Hilton Worldwide, meanwhile, announced a new adoption assistance benefit in October.