Estée Lauder Expands Parental Leave Benefits for All US Employees

Estée Lauder Expands Parental Leave Benefits for All US Employees

As of this month, US employees of the Estée Lauder Companies can take advantage of an expanded range of family benefits, including 20 weeks of paid parental leave for all new parents, regardless of their gender or whether they became parents through birth, adoption, or foster placement. Birth mothers are entitled to an additional six to eight weeks of paid maternity leave, while employees seeking to become adoptive parents can request up to $10,000 in aid for adoption fees. Business Insider’s Leanna Garfield passed along more details of the new policy when it was announced late last month:

Both hourly and salaried employees are eligible, as long as they work at least 30 hours per week and have been with the company at least three months. Before the change, Estée Lauder offered 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The company will continue to offer up to $20,000 per year toward fertility treatments, as well as child or elder care at a reduced rate to eligible workers.

In addition, the company is launching a back-to-work transition program for new parents. As part of this six-week program, Estée will give parents flexibility on where and when they work. For example, a new mom could work from home a few days per week if she chooses, or a dad could adjust his schedule in that he comes in earlier and leaves earlier than the usual 9 to 5. And those who qualify for Estée’s new childcare/eldercare program expend a co-pay of $8 an hour.

Estée Lauder is framing this new benefit offering as a recognition of the fact that not all families are formed in the same way and that employees need more individualized options for starting their own. “We don’t want to dictate what their families should look like,” Latricia Parker, Estée Lauder’s Executive Director of Global Benefits, told Business Insider.

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The 20 Largest US Employers Now Offer Paid Parental Leave

The 20 Largest US Employers Now Offer Paid Parental Leave

The major home improvement and appliance retail chain Lowe’s announced in a press release last Thursday that it was introducing a paid parental leave benefit for full-time employees, both salaried and hourly, as well as expanding eligibility for its health insurance plan:

In addition to the company’s comprehensive benefits program, eligible full-time hourly and salaried U.S. employees will qualify to receive:

  • Ten weeks of paid maternity leave and two weeks of paid parental leave.
  • An adoption assistance benefit to cover up to $5,000 of expenses related to agency, legal and other fees.
  • Eligibility to enroll in health benefits sooner, as early as the first of the month following 30 days of service.

Lowe’s also announced one-time cash bonuses of up to $1,000 for its more than 260,000 hourly employees, as some other large US employers have done in response to the substantial cut in the corporate tax rate passed by Congress in December.

The chain’s new leave policy, which goes into effect May 1, means that the 20 largest private employers in the US now offer some form of paid parental leave benefit, the New York Times‘ Claire Cain Miller observes:

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Accenture India Expands Adoption and Surrogacy Leave

Accenture India Expands Adoption and Surrogacy Leave

For multinational corporations, India has recently emerged as a new theater in the parental leave arms race, with PricewaterhouseCoopers announcing an overhaul of its policy for new mothers there at the start of this month. Accenture India has now taken its own policy one step further, the Economic Times reports, expanding leave for women who become mothers through adoption or surrogacy, among other benefits:

Accenture has increased the adoption leave its staff can take to 22 weeks from the current eight and added surrogacy leave, also of 22 weeks, as a new category, making the company one of the first in India to equate surrogacy and adoption leaves to maternity leave practices.

The new policy means all types new mothers will now be treated equal. Effective immediately, all new mothers (full-time and part-time) will receive five months (22 weeks) of paid leave, which is significantly more than the current statutory requirement of three months.

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American Express Announces New Benefits for Working Parents

American Express Announces New Benefits for Working Parents

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.

Why Some US Companies Aren’t Forthcoming About Their Parental Leave Policies

Why Some US Companies Aren’t Forthcoming About Their Parental Leave Policies

The prospects for a paid parental leave mandate in the US remain up in the air after this month’s election, but while business is moving faster than government in advancing these kinds of policies in the US, Fast Company’s Jared Lindzon highlights a new study from Paid Leave for the United States (PL+US), which found that two thirds of the US’s 60 largest employers “have either no paid leave policy, or refused to disclose their paid leave policy”:

Only 27 of the 60 employers were able to confirm the existence of a formal leave policy, and only five companies offer policies with equal leave for both fathers and mothers, as well as for adoptive parents. Among the country’s top 60 employers, Amazon, Bank of America, Deloitte, and EY provide the most extensive family leave policies, offering 16 weeks or more of fully paid parental leave for mothers, fathers, and adoptive parents. Coca-Cola also recently enhanced its policy to be gender-neutral, which impacts around 40,000 U.S. workers. Others such as Starbucks offer six weeks of maternity leave but no paternity leave.

Across the nation, more than 100 million employees have no access to paid family leave, and one in four new mothers goes back to work just 10 days after giving birth. Only 13% of private-sector employees have access to paid family leave, and that number drops to 6% for low-wage employees.

Valentina Zarya at Fortune discusses why some employers may have been reluctant to disclose their leave policies:

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Hilton Goes Long on Family Benefits With ‘Best-in-Industry’ Adoption Assistance Plan

Hilton Goes Long on Family Benefits With ‘Best-in-Industry’ Adoption Assistance Plan

In January, Hilton Worldwide made headlines with its new parental leave policy, which applies to both hourly and salaried employees and grants two weeks of paid leave to all new parents, including adoptive parents, plus eight additional weeks for birth mothers. This month, the hotel chain announced that another family-friendly employee policy, an adoption assistance program, will go into effect at the start of next year:

Under the new program, Hilton will reimburse Team Members for qualified adoption expenses up to $10,000 per child, with no limit to the number of adoptions. Expenses covered include application fees, home studies, agency and placement fees, legal fees and court costs, immigration, immunization and translation fees, transportation, meals and lodging, and counseling. The benefit will take effect on January 1, 2017, and will cover all—hourly and salaried—U.S.-based Team Members who have continuously worked at Hilton for at least one year, averaging at least 30 hours per week.

Andie Burjek at Workforce puts the new policy in context:

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